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EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX

18-11-2006

Screaming Lord Sutch was once viewed as "mad" because he recommended voting at 18 and round the clock licensing laws.Bear that in mind as you check out Laurence Inman's educationmasterplan, which involves just one set text and everything you ever wanted to know about sex.

When I was a teacher, I attended many meetings. Hundreds probably. This is bound to be the case in a profession which attracts so many people who are in love with the sound of their own voice.

In my last job the yearly timetable was drawn up in advance; Tuesdays and Thursdays were earmarked for meetings, whether there was anything to discuss or not!. Of course, there always was something to discuss, because the human capacity and inclination to fill the air with silly chatter spreads to fill the time available for it. (That's Inman's Law of Expanding Gases, by the way.)

Of all these tens of thousands of minutes I wasted grinding my teeth and plotting gruesome revenges on whoever was droning away at that moment, I can remember only one.

Someone was expressing concern about the pupils' behaviour. I think that was how he put it. He might well have been ‘addressing issues' on the matter. I can't remember. Anyway, he observed that things were always much worse in the afternoon.

‘Of course it is,' I put in. ‘They spend their entire lunch-hours consuming sugary sweets, chocolate, crisps fizzing with E number chemicals, cola, chips and much else. No wonder they're as high as kites. We should boycott the tuck shop next door, throw the cola machine into a skip and insist that the kitchens serve proper food. Salads. Fresh vegetables. Water.'

In the silence that followed you could have heard a lettuce-leaf wilt. I'm sure I heard someone murmur ‘Keep him talking, I'll get a doctor.'

But of course, this is now the received wisdom. Politicians are queuing up to parade their green and healthy credentials. (Not a pretty sight!) My contribution, which twenty years ago could be dismissed as the prattlings of a deranged hippy, would have the whole staffroom nodding eagerly in agreement.

Recalling this has now emboldened me to put before you the Six-Point Inman Plan for the Regeneration of the Education System (two words I usually put in separate sets of inverted commas.) Don't forget - you saw it here first. What's mad now will be obvious in a few short months.

    1. Make all schools local and mixed. All the kids in a particular area have a local primary school which they all attend. At eleven (or whatever age we in the area decide) they all go on to a local secondary school. There will be no separating of male and female.

    2. Abolish selection. This is, of course, a necessary concomitant of 1. We can, at a stroke, avoid the yearly torment of children being put through the horrors of traipsing round the ‘better' schools, paying for tuition, sitting exams, raising hopes, dashing them to the ground, feeling that the rest of their lives are ruined, all to satisfy the egos of their mad/misguided/snobbish parents. If anyone complains that this will deny ‘choice' then we point out, in a slow patient voice, that choice has no appropriate place in such an important area of our national life and that if they don't like it they can go and live in America and see what choice does to people there.

    3. Democratise schools. This will mean getting rid of Headteachers. Think about it. What function do they have ? I've known scores of Heads. One or two were all right, but that had nothing to do with their roles in the school. Most were promoted well beyond their competence. Many were sadistic megalomaniacs, or inadequate sociopaths, or drunks, or thieves, or vain fools, or any combination of some or all of the above. Two of them ended up in prison and at least two others deserved to. A rotating team, or cabinet, of volunteer teachers can easily do their jobs. Let staff and children decide on the curriculum. Personally, I would make the only set book George Orwell's Politics and the English Language, because children have a right to know when and how often they're being lied to by people in authority. They also have a right to know everything about sex.

    4. Give teachers a single union. There are, I think, about six at the moment. One big strong union will enable teachers to say to any interfering, authoritarian government: ‘We're the experts, not some unaccountable bunch of old Etonians in Whitehall, not characters like Chris Woodhouse, not editors of redtops, but us, the people who know. And what we want is….whatever. And if we don't get it, then you won't have any exams set or marked this year.'

    5. Disband Ofsted. And league tables, the national curriculum, sats and anything else which takes money and energy away from what schools are supposed to be for. Ban all talk of ‘sink schools.' If schools need help, pay for it properly like they do in civilised countries, principally in Scandinavia. There always seems to be plenty of cash available to fight pointless wars; just re-direct to schools.

    6. Secularise the system. It is intolerable that a handful of unelected clerics who happened to be sitting in the House of Lords in 1944 should still exert any control over what happens in our schools.

    So, there you have it. My six-point plan (or SPIPRES for short.) Most of all, we must treat children better, be more careful and attentive to their welfare. Let's start by telling them that standing all night in a barn on Broad Street throwing cheap hooch down their necks is not a good way to spend this, their precious and one-and-only life. Let's outlaw the use of the phrase ‘a life-changing sum of money.' Let's just be more civilised.

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