Chalk talk: Careers lesson - new role models urgently needed

A sign of the times, maybe. A visiting dignitary was touring a primary school in the North-east and asked a young pupil what he wanted to be when he grew up. "I want to be an uncle," the lad said firmly.

"A what?" asked the dignitary, feeling he had misheard.

"An uncle," said the boy emphatically. "They always get the comfiest seat in the living room and they're always cooked special teas. My mum's introduced me to lots of them."

So what's the moral to draw from this encounter? The visiting dignitary thought it showed that there was a need to develop more careers training in primary schools. Spot on, when you consider that a similar question asked of primary schoolchildren a couple of years ago elicited the answer: "A celebrity."

However, some would say the problem goes deeper than that.

* Speak to any headteacher for a while and it won't be long before they moan about the number of forms they have to fill in to pacify the health and safety lobby. Maybe they would think differently if they were leading a school in Brunei, though.

"It certainly puts things into perspective when they have risk assessments for what to do when a snake comes into the dining room, and how to deal with a monkey that wants to steal your snack," Andy Falconer, chairman of the Independent Association of Preparatory Schools said after visiting the country. Makes you realise that sometimes there are valid reasons for health and safety precautions.

* An unlikely new heroine of the Tory right emerged at their party conference in Birmingham this week. Step forward Katharine Birbalsingh, deputy headteacher at the St Michael and All angels Academy in Camberwell, south London, who confessed she had flirted with the Socialist Workers' Party whilst at Oxford.

Instead, though, she told the party faithful, she had plucked up courage and put aside all guilt feelings and voted Conservative at the May election. The reason? She was sick of the "excuses culture" over failings in the state education system and the "dumbing down" of exams.

She was one of a number of heads and teachers shepherded on to the conference rostrum by Education Secretary Michael Gove and won a standing ovation for her efforts. Expect to hear more of her in Tory party circles in future.

* Lenny Henry has been chosen to compere this year's Teaching Awards, to be screened later this month on BBC2. The comedian-cum-serious-actor has several close ties with education – notably playing super-head Ian George in the BBC drama Hope and Glory, when he is said to have based the character on Sir William Atkinson, who turned around one of the country's most challenging schools, Phoenix High School in west London, and became an adviser to the Blair government.

r.garner@independent.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Mock the tweet: Ukip leader Nigel Farage and comedian Frankie Boyle
peopleIt was a polite exchange of words, as you can imagine
Life and Style
fashion
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

SEN Teaching Assistant needed for long term assignment

£45 - £55 per day: Randstad Education Preston: We are looking for an experienc...

Primary Teachers Required in King's Lynn

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teachers needed in King's Ly...

Primary Teachers needed in Ely

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teacher needed in the Ely ar...

Teaching Assistant to work with Autistic students

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Randstad Education Leicester ...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain