Chalk Talk: On the doorstep with Boris - Michael Gove reveals all
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.
Thursday 10 May 2012
Victorious London mayoralty candidate Boris Johnson was very much on the mind of Michael Gove when he addressed the annual conference of the National Association of Head Teachers last weekend.
The Education Secretary told of how one day Boris had gone canvassing, knocked on a door and a very attractive middle-aged lady had answered his call. After he had introduced himself, she told him: "Yes, I know who you are – you're the father of one of my children." Boris looked dumbstruck and probably thought, "crikey!", whereupon she repeated what she had said only to find him mumbling that – with such an attractive lady as this – he was sure he would have remembered any night of passion. "No – not that," she said. "Your daughter goes to my school." She was the headteacher.
By the way, if Michael Gove ever thinks of looking for a job outside politics – probably not the best time to raise this question in view of last week's election results, he could do worse than start a new career as an impressionist. His take-off of Boris was almost frighteningly realistic.
Talking of Michael Gove's visit to the conference, it was interesting to note that he has been replaced in headteacher demonology by chief schools inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw. If there was a "hiss the villain" prize to be won from this year's conference, Sir Michael would win it hands down.
He is on notice from the nation's headteachers because – although a "no confidence" motion in him was eventually withdrawn – he was given a clear understanding that it could very well be back on the table if he fails to mend his ways.
Sir Michael has a reputation from his headteacher days as a firm disciplinarian, but I suspect that Steve Iredale, the new president of the NAHT and a primary school head from Barnsley, could rival him on that in one respect. The way that he hit his gavel on the table to open and close debates was awesome, leading to a kind of shrieking sound reverberating around the room and sending a tingle down everybody's spine.
Do that to a detention class and it really would be a deterrent to future bad behaviour!
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