Could we have some order, please?

Having "rejoiced, rejoiced" at the downfall of two of the worst ever Secretaries of State for Education, Gove and Morgan, and taken on board the madness of putting Boris Johnson in charge of MI6 (I'm sure John Le Carre must be working hard already on his next spy thriller, The Clown that Killed the Circus), I'm looking forward to a period of relative calm before Justine Greening starts establishing her new priorities.

She has been presented with a fantastic opportunity to get the government off the mass academisation hook, not least in light of the two recent evaluations of the performance of MATs which confirm yet again that at best academisation can affect schools at the top and bottom end of the performance scale but make no difference to the vast majority of all other schools. Will she take it? If she doesn't, the chance will be lost for many years.

She's been asked about grammar schools and has given a pretty equivocal response. Once again, she could take the opportunity to kick this pointless debate into touch. It's irrelevant to the needs of the nation's children but is a favourite issue for Tory headbangers and UKIP ignoramuses who may need to be assuaged, politically. It doesn't take much thinking about, though: for every grammar school there have to be three non-grammar schools - what we used to call secondary moderns. How would that work in the context of the current odd mix of academies and maintained schools? How long would it take for the penny to drop for the majority of voters with school-aged children?

I see that Nick Gibb has hung on to his job, despite everything, but no news yet on Lord John Nash, the free school and academy-loving friend of the Notting Hill set. If he goes, it might suggest Greening's moving away from the obsession with academies.

The biggest issue she faces, of course, is teacher recruitment. Any Secretary of State for Education worth their salt would immediately see this as their top priority but her predecessors ignored it - and where are they now?

It is very refreshing to have an Education Secretary who went to state schools. It's not the only thing that matters, by a long chalk, but is important symbolically and suggests that she will not see education as something to be bought before it's valued.

And on the subject of private education, what does the recent behaviour by those old Etonians and alumnus of Robert Gordon's College (Gove) tell us about the character-building that went on there? Self-obsession, selfishness, treachery, lying for personal advantage...if I were the Principal of Eton I'd be hanging my head in shame and despair. Would any sane parent pay through the nose for an education that turned their child into such an ethically-challenged monster? Or perhaps that's exactly what want for their offspring.

Anyway, I'll keep an open mind about Justine Greening for the time being. We've heard so much talk from politicians in recent months, much of it blatant lies and hypocrisy. By their deeds shall ye know them.

 

 

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