Chalk Talk by Richard Garner: Two behaviour tsars – on their very best behaviour
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Thursday 05 July 2012
What happens if you put two behaviour tsars in the same room? Presumably, even if they disagreed, it wouldn't be fisticuffs at dawn because they are supposed to be showing exemplary standards of behaviour to the nation's children.
The question was posed by Graham Stuart, chairman of the Commons Select Committee on Education, as his MPs grilled the Government's current behaviour tsar, Charlie Taylor, over what would happen if he was placed in a room with the last Government's behaviour tsar, Sir Alan Steer.
Not a lot, thought Mr Taylor. The two, both being former headteachers, would agree with each other on a lot of things, he argued. The main difference, he added, was that he would be more concise in summing up what he thought for a report. Sir Alan, by comparison, did produce the odd blockbuster 150-page report.
Ouch! Over to you, Sir Alan.
Meanwhile, an interesting spat between Mr Stuart and Schools Minister Nick Gibb at the same evidence session. Mr Stuart was annoyed because his members had only been given a copy of a letter from Mr Taylor to Education Secretary Michael Gove summing up what action had been taken to implement reforms he had suggested the evening before the hearing. It was not enough time to analyse what was in the document, he said.
Also, in its response to a select committee report on discipline, it failed to mention it was conducting a questionnaire among teachers on their disciplinary practices – something the MPs themselves recommended.
How can we carry on if we cannot trust government responses to our deliberations? Mr Stuart continued.
I can sympathise wholeheartedly with Mr Stuart's plight. He should try being a journalist, though. Sometimes you don't get the necessary documents until after whatever event it is has taken place. Sometimes you don't get them at all.
We still do analysis, though.
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