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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Reach Volunteering: Would you like to volunteer your expertise as Chair of Governors for Livability?

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses are reimbursable: Reach Volunteering...

Ashdown Group: Payroll Administrator - Buckinghamshire - £25,000

£20000 - £25000 per annum + substantial benefits: Ashdown Group: Finance Admin...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine