Chalk Talk: Yee hah! The cowboy spirit that's driving our headteachers

 

It seems the trend of headteachers likening themselves to famous American cowboys is continuing.

Remember last year Sir Michael Wilshaw, then head of the highly successful Mossbourne academy in Hackney and now chief inspector of schools, likened the post of head to that of Clint Eastwood in Man With No Name and Dirty Harry films because of the individualism shown by the characters? Well, Peter Lang, principal of Uxbridge High School – highlighted by The Independent last week because of its success in teaching pupils from disadvantaged homes – would prefer to be linked with John Wayne or Jeff Bridges or, (more accurately) Rooster Cogburn, the hero sheriff of the film True Grit.

It's the teamwork between Mattie Ross, the young girl who wants revenge on her father's killers, LaBoeuf, the Texas Ranger who links up with her and Cogburn to find them, and Cogburn himself.

Cogburn represents the grizzled old professionals who set the direction of the school, LaBoeuf, the idealist young TeachFirst graduates the school has recruited who carry the vision through, and Mattie the young pupils who are eager in its pursuit.

I was worried about Sir Michael's Clint Eastwood analogy because I wondered what would happen if a pupil stood up against him. "Make my day" would not seem an appropriate response.

I remember that, in True Grit, there is a scene in which Mattie receives corporal punishment. Hopefully, that has been erased from the memory, too.

What next? Maybe Meryl Streep for a woman headteacher. Her role in Doubt, when she was the head of a faith school getting rid of a priest thought to have abused children, showed she was on the side of those who believe heads should be able to speedily dismiss staff.

Meanwhile, on the subject of the league tables, I gather they are no longer known as the school performance tables in some education circles.

Following Education Secretary Michael Gove's decision to include more than 200 points of comparison this year rather than just the 46 of 2011, they are known as the "Gove compare" tables.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux ...

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

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

Recruitment Genius: Nursery Manager

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Nursery Manager is required t...

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

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windo...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk