Sack the bad teachers – Woodhead must go!

Ofsted now rates the teacher training provided at Buckingham as just “satisfactory”

Hugh Muir reports in today’s Guardian that ‘Ofsted now rates the teacher training provided at Buckingham – the only private university in England – as just “satisfactory”.’ Oh dear, and that’s where the teachers’ friend, former chief inspector of schools (and occasional Telegraph columnist) Chris Woodhead now works, along with Professor Anthony O’Hear, once Mrs Thatcher’s education guru, and Professor Alan Smithers. As Muir comments, ‘Must raise standards, they always say. Certainly we must.’

Is this what they mean by a private education? Or just unfair?

Pupils at private school discover their teacher in ‘shocking soft-porn’ advert on YouTube, Daily Mail reports – and the teacher disputes it

Pupils at private school discover their teacher in ‘shocking soft-porn’ advert on YouTube, Daily Mail reports

‘Is this what all English teachers get up to?’ said a friend to me yesterday. It seems his son’s English teacher is the latest to be snared by the ghost of follies past because of the Internet. I must say that his cheerful reaction seemed rather unwarranted in the circumstances. Not that the comments in the paper read much better. ‘It is absolutely awful, morally,’ the Mail quoted one parent as saying, ‘especially given the type of school she teaches in.’ (Had this been a bog-standard comprehensive, it was implied, such conduct would have been acceptable.) ‘Headteacher Andrew Chicken said the school was looking into the case,’ the paper reports. Mr Chicken was pictured in his academic robes and grinning far too broadly in view of the gravity of the situation (nay, he almost seems to be smirking). Headmaster, please don’t look any more closely – avert your eyes! The students also appear to be treating this with unseemly levity; one is quoted as leaving a message for the unfortunate teacher on YouTube: ‘Perhaps you could sign autographs at the bag racks.’

Still, let’s look at the advantages. As the Mail’s report says in its opening sentence, ‘When pupils at a private school found their English teacher starring in a raunchy video on the Internet, they paid attention like never before.’ Reading the Daily Mail site is never good for those of a liberal disposition, however; the right hand side of the web page carrying this article is headed Femail; on the day I visited the page, the first article said: ‘Is it breasts, height, amount of body hair? A new book reveals the secrets of attraction …’ (Clearly the answer is no – it’s being an English teacher that counts for most.)

I shall refrain from linking to the news article: find the Daily Mail for 16 January 2008 for yourselves if you must.

Latest news: ‘Mum defends teacher’, the Manchester Evening News reports on 19 January – and quite right too, especially when it seems the film may have been edited after shooting to change the emphasis. After all, this could happen to anyone, couldn’t it, your Majesty?

Unfortunately, the Sun, that defender of freedom, has also reported the case (it’s now a ‘sex film’ – note the inverted commas, boys and girls). The comments posted by readers appear to support the teacher and at least show some erudition: ‘I suppose if she had played the lead in Romeo an Juliet (with the nude scene as written in by W Shakespeare) she would have been OK,’ says ‘jimboman’. Funny, I don’t remember that in the Folio, Jim: have you been watching too many videos yourself? With friends from the Sun….

Sign of hard times

‘Sub-prime’ is 2007’s word of the year

The American Dialect Society chose ‘sub-prime’ as 2007’s word of the year. Presumably it’s been made to a NINJA: ‘No Income, No Job or Assets. A poorly documented loan made to a high-risk borrower.’ Amongst the ‘most creative’ nominations was ‘Googlegänger: person with your name who shows up when you google yourself’.