When I taught Media Studies a few years back (why DIDN’T this a subject make it into Gove’s E BACC: seriously, a lot more useful than Latin, surely? But I digress…). Anyway, I used to discuss the topic of ‘news values’: the reasons why certain things made it onto the news and others didn’t. Yesterday a major teachers’ organisation, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL, formerly AMMA), passed, virtually unanimously, a motion of ‘no confidence’ in Michael Gove AND Sir Michael Wilshaw at their annual conference. Furthermore, their General Secretary, Mary Bousted, devoted the whole of her conference address to an attack on Gove and all his works. Now, admittedly, “Teachers Attack Education Secretary” comes in the same headline category as “Dog Bites Man”, especially with the current incumbent, but the newsworthy aspect of this story is that ATL are generally considered to be ‘the moderate teachers union’, distinct from the NUT and the NAS/UWT who have both threatened strike action in June and the autumn. The ATL hasn’t threatened anything and, arguably, their stance is of the moderate ‘teacher-in-the-classroom’. You could read this story in newspapers as diverse as The Mirror and The Independent (a copy of Dr Bousted’s speech had obviously been released in advance) but you wouldn’t have seen it mentioned on the BBC evening news. Fair enough, they only have room for about a dozen items and there was the Cyprus financial crisis to cover, not to mention the snow. And the snow.
So, nothing about education yesterday, then? Well, not quite. There was the disturbing news of the school that had banned the sale of triangular flapjacks in the school canteen. Now, I don’t intend to discuss this in detail: maybe it was ‘taken out of context’, maybe it says something about the human condition that I don’t get, but it did offer the newsmongers of the BBC an opportunity to combine a ‘just fancy that’ light-hearted piece at the end of the news with a Daily Mail ‘healthandsafetygonemad’ story. Maybe I am being too sensitive but it does seem to me that when the teacher moderates so forcefully express their utter condemnation of Gove and his fellow-traveller, Wilshaw, this is more important than ‘Flapjack Gate’.