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

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

King's College, Cambridge: Stipendiary Junior Research Fellowships October 2016

£20,100 (pre-award of doctorate) rising each year to a maximum of £25,869: Kin...

Tradewind Recruitment: Speech and Language Teaching Assistant

£70 - £90 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Speech and Language Primary Teaching...

Tradewind Recruitment: Nursery Nurse

£70 - £90 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Are you a Qualified, Level 3, Nurser...

Tradewind Recruitment: Nursery Nurse

£70 - £90 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Are you looking for a new challenge ...

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works