Chalk Talk: Allow me to introduce the latest witchfinder of the classroom
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.
Wednesday 31 October 2012
The Independent reported in the summer how an American education expert who advocates sacking large numbers of incompetent teachers has earned a reputation as a "witchfinder general of the classroom".
Michelle Rhee had flown into Britain to pass on her experience to ministers and education officials – and Michael Gove indicated that her hard-nosed policies could well be adopted here.
Ever since we profiled her, there has been speculation as to who is most deserving of the epithet of "witchfinder general" within the British education system. Could it be Sir Michael Wilshaw, the new chief schools inspector? Or Glenys Stacey, head of the education standards watchdog. Could it be Gove himself?
Apparently, the answer is none of the above. It is Rob Behrens, the softly-spoken but steelily determined head of the Office of the Independent Adjudicator – the body set up to review student complaints. He told a conference in London last week that universities had privately given him the moniker.
But things have got better recently, he added, and now he is usually invited in for a constructive chat as the two sides resolve their problems.
However, with the number of complaints set to double by the end of next year – largely due to the rise in fees – many more campuses could be receiving a visit soon.
Normally I would treat a book with an official blurb which starts "John Izbicki has an exciting story to tell" with a pinch of salt.
Not, you understand, because it's about John – a former Independent columnist. It's just the sort of thing any self-respecting publisher would say about its protégé. In the case of the former education correspondent, his autobiography, Life Between The Lines, lives up to the billing.
An interesting read for its insight into the world of education in the two decades up to the 1990s, it deserves a wider audience than that – particularly for its description of life as a Jewish boy growing up in Nazi Germany and how his family fled the Gestapo.
I never thought the life story of an education hack could bring so many tears to the eyes. I commend it to you.
Most expensive city to live in for expatriates: Luanda, Angola takes number one spot with Hong Kong and Zurich in top three
Video of Irish 'professional boxer' fighting Istanbul neighbourhood goes viral in Turkey
Irish tourist filmed fighting with shopkeepers in Turkey says they 'messed with the wrong man'
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal get peerages
Moody neurotics are more likely to be creative geniuses, study says
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
- 1 Hair loss explained: How and why men go bald
- 2 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe the Stark may have a twin sister
- 3 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 4 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
- 5 Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
£24,451 - £27,061 per annum: Royal College of Music: The Royal College of Musi...
£35 - £45k DOE + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing / Optimisation Analyst is...
£17000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to the ongoing success of t...
Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...