Chalk talk: Michael Gove vs Sir Michael Wilshaw - is it time for a showdown?
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 12 February 2014
Just a final thought about Education Secretary Michael Gove's conjuring up of the 1950s science fiction movie The Blob as symbolic of his battle with the education establishment over his school reforms.
I hadn't realised until last week just how much of a presence the Hollywood superstar Steve Mcqueen has been during Mr Gove's tenure. After all, soon after coming to office, he used the analogy of The Magnificent Seven, another of the star's films, in a speech singling out the country's most outstanding headteachers.
I'm not sure where The Great Escape fits into all this, unless he can pull a rabbit out of a hat and avoid next month's strike by the National Union Of Teachers.
The chief schools inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has likened the position of headteachers to that of Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry movies – loners taking tough decisions.
Personally, I find it hard to believe recent speculation that Mr Gove has been seeking to undermine Sir Michael's position because of Ofsted's critical reports on free schools. In my book, Gove's denial of any briefing against Sir Michael from within the Department for Education fits in with his previously uncritical support of the chief inspector he appointed. However, if there were a showdown between the two, who would you back? The one modelling himself on Steve McQueen or Clint Eastwood? It is an intriguing prospect.
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