The lyrical genius at the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference


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The Independent Online

To the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, and a warning from its chairman, Richard Harman, of the perils of getting somebody else to write your speech.

He cited the case of an unnamed Chancellor of the Exchequer who always got his private secretary to write it – a task the latter did not enjoy. In all his black-tie splendour, he got up to deliver his annual address in the City of London’s Mansion House.

“My Lords, Your Grace, My Lord Bishop, My Lords Sheriff, ladies and gentlemen,” he began. “The problem that faces us today is perhaps the most daunting that has ever faced our nation in its island history. Unless we can find a solution in the coming months, I see nothing but catastrophe ahead. There are only three possible routes of escape from the dangers now confronting us...” Then he flipped the page and read out: “From now on, you’re on your own, you bastard.”

No such worries with Mr Harman’s speech. It was entirely his own work, I understand.

Meanwhile, I wish that I had offered odds on whether our elite heads would have been belting out the lyrics “We Don’t Need No Education” at their annual conference. The importance of singing and music was a theme at the conference, and conductor Dominic Peckham was assembling a choir to sing at the HMC’s annual supper. Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall” happened to be one of the songs chosen for a rehearsal. Just a thought, but surely in such an august gathering, they should have changed it to “We Don’t Need Any Education”.

One of the guest speakers was Baroness Sally Morgan, who was ousted as chair of Ofsted by former Education Secretary Michael Gove, prompting claims of a political stitch-up. Interesting to note that her term of office expired at the beginning of September so, in fact, she stayed in her post longer that the man who wanted rid of her.