Teacher Talk

Peter Hyman changed careers last year to become a classroom assistant at Islington Green School after resigning his position as Downing Street strategist and chief speech-writer for Tony Blair. He has just written a book, '1 Out of 10: From Downing Street Vision to School Reality'
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How well is Ruth Kelly faring as Education Secretary?

How well is Ruth Kelly faring as Education Secretary?

She is an extremely competent person. It is always difficult for new people to come in before an election and she has the chance to prove herself through the process she is entering now. All I can say of the Labour Party's chances for another term in power is that it will be vital for schools if they do win because more investment is needed to create a bigger impact on the state of education today.

Has the Government done enough to improve the quality of school dinners?

It is definitely an immensely important issue, especially with the recent Jamie Oliver programmes on the state of school food. I personally feel very strongly about this, as it is something that should have been addressed more closely before. After leaving my job in Downing Street I wrote in my book that just as we do not pollute the minds of children with violent films in schools so we should try not to pollute their bodies either. You'll notice that when children are given a choice of food, they will invariably go for the Turkey Twizzlers. We have to be more authoritarian with the eating habits of children, and as a starting point take chips off the menu.

Which education issues should the political parties be focusing on?

An issue that is rarely addressed is literacy in schools. It is a rather unspoken issue but crucial to the foundation of any child's education. The largest inequality in schools today is the gap between the literate and the illiterate. Therefore there should be a bigger focus on tackling the problems with reading, writing and communication from all the parties.

How have you managed the transition from No 10 speech-writer to school classroom assistant?

It has been one of the most exciting years of my life, and has provided me with a number of challenges. To create an atmosphere of learning, to enthuse and motivate schoolchildren is a harder task than anyone can imagine. I take small groups for a politics and debating session, and it is incredibly encouraging to find that they are curious about many things. It's what motivates them and that, in turn, motivates me.

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