Chalk Talk: Just what could be the source of headteachers' stress, Mr Gove?

 

Education Secretary Michael Gove has been likened to many things in his time, but the image of him as a "fanatical" personal-fitness trainer is one that does not readily come to mind. The analogy was made by Bernadette Hunter, president of the National Association of Head Teachers, in her address to her conference at the weekend.

She said he was "constantly urging us all to go faster and faster, higher and higher with no heed to the underlying damage this is causing to the body or the system".

It was all too much for Gerard Kelly, editor of the Times Educational Supplement, who too a look at Mr Gove's waistline and said: "Looking at you, Michael, I'm not sure it's true."

It was a moment of levity in what was otherwise a confrontational encounter between the headteachers and Mr Gove at the weekend. At one stage in the proceedings there was a bout of ironic laughter after Mr Gove said it was necessary to find out the sources of heads' stress to tackle it. "They think you're one of them," said Mr Kelly dryly.

At this stage, Mr Gove appeared almost to decide enough was enough – a conclusion that the heads had obviously come to earlier – and sternly told the heads: "If people find it stressful that I'm demanding higher standards then I'm not going to stop demanding higher standards."

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT, has a stunning pair of purple cowboy boots that he wears in his spare time, it emerges. I mention this because it seems to indicate there is some sort of link between headteachers and people who represent them with the Wild West.

After all, did not Sir Michael Wilshaw, chief schools inspector and head of Ofsted, liken the role of a headteacher to Clint Eastwood – a man who stands alone and fights the good fight with all his might? Sir Michael was headteacher of the highly successful Mossbourne Academy in Hackney at the time.

Now, of course, the two are on opposite sides of the fence (headteachers are critical of the way Ofsted carries out its business). If they met, would it be a case of "this town isn't big enough for the both of us"?

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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

Recruitment Genius: Senior Textiles / Fashion Technician

£22000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To contribute to the day-to-da...

Recruitment Genius: Health and Social Care NVQ Assessor

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: It is also essential that you p...

Recruitment Genius: ICT Infrastructure Manager

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Edinburgh city centre scho...

Recruitment Genius: Plumber

£30000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An independent boys' school sit...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'