“Come on In-ger-land!”

Like all right-minded Englishmen (and a few women) I am appalled (“gutted”, I think is the preferred term) at the England football team’s sad early exit from the current unpleasantness in South America. It is hardly a good example of the application of ‘British values’ (or perhaps it is, who knows?).  I’m also disappointed that Mr Hodgson has been given the ‘all clear’ for another two years, and that the England franchise isn’t going to be taken over by Lord Harris, despite its having been judged ‘inadequate’.

Still, fear not! The answer is obvious and staring us in the face: give the England Manager job to Sir Michael Wilshaw. No, bear with me on this. After all, he is a man who knows a thing or two about sport, as his recent intervention has shown. He has, quite rightly, identified the fact that the vast majority of Britain’s best performing sportsmen and women are the products of independent schools, something which is, of course, the fault of the state sector schools and their teachers. It is not, as he has rightly concluded, the product of a vastly unequal distribution of resources between sectors and anyone who claims otherwise is just making excuses for their own inadequacies.

The one major sport where this is not the case  is association football, where, as far as I can make out, the overwhelming majority of players are either from abroad, Welsh, or from comprehensives where, it is now generally accepted, they rarely get an opportunity to even take part in any kind of competitive encounter which, I’m sure you’ll agree, explains a lot!

But Sir Michael is the best man for the job for another reason: he knows how to get people to improve their performance and his technique is so simple and obvious that one wonders why no one else has tried it. You just TELL people. Yep, that’s it. Forget careful analysis, skills audits, training and support. You just denigrate them, threaten to come and look at them without notice, tell them they’re useless and then, well, just TELL them they’ve got to get better. It’s what he’s been doing for the past three years to teachers and schools up and down the land and the results pretty much speak for themselves.

So let’s get up a petition straight away and try to persuade Greg Dyke, Head of the FA, though, frankly, I’m not very hopeful. Product of the state school system, see. Oik!

Sign this!

The news that Michael Gove, apparently against the advice of some at the DfE, approved the spending of £45 million (some say £40 million) on a selective ‘free school’ Sixth Form College in London, has outraged many, including Margaret Hodge and me. The school will be sponsored by The Harris academy chain which, in case you need reminding, was founded by, and is overseen by, Lord Harris (he of ‘Carpetright’ and ex-Tory Party treasurer and donor) and Westminster School, a private (as in ‘public’) school. Just to rub it in, Gove has overseen cuts to Sixth Form colleges around the country which, according to those who know, is resulting in teacher redundancies and cutting back on 16+ options.

Outraged enough, yet? I started to set up an on-line petition but then heard that the slightly more high profile National Union of Teachers had beaten me to it. So I went to their website and signed. You don’t have to be a member to do the same (although I am, personally). I’m just glad a national organisation is prepared to galvanise opposition to this travesty.

Here’s the link: