Dashing off to make the most of my new status to ‘holiday’ during term time, I neglected to write about two minor ‘events’ that affected me at the end of term.
I was invited back to the school where I worked for more than three decades to help present some prizes. This was a year on from what was perhaps my own little ’15 minutes of fame’. In the absence of a ‘big wig’ from the Local Authority, I was invited — as retiring senior leader — to give the key-note speech. A large proportion of it was predictable, though genuinely-meant, praise for the way the school had developed in recent years and become in most people’s eyes a really good school. However, what caught the attention and has stuck in people’s memories, were my references to Michael Gove and Michael Wilshaw about whom I was less than complimentary, a view which was warmly endorsed by the strength of the applause from parents, staff and guests, including the local Tory MP, apparently, (maybe she wasn’t listening!).
This year, restricted to one minute, like all ‘guest presenters, I reminded the audience of what I had said last year and managed a little ‘sound bite’ which effectively said ‘nothing’s happened to make me change my mind’. Again, warm applause; also ‘presenting’ was retiring county secretary of a teachers’ union, who was rude about academies, the Chair of Governors, who vowed the school would never become an academy whilst he is in post, and a former student now local Labour councillor who promised to join everyone on the picket line if the school was ever threatened with academisation. A surprisingly political occasion and the strength of applause for all these comments left us in no doubt where the audience stood on these matters. Quite heartening.