What is the world coming to? It seems that across the globe individuals are being levied into positions of power and influence not because of their expertise and credentials, but rather as a consequence of their peer group or finances. We’ve all shared a chuckle or two (between audible gulps) at the catastrophic US administration in the past year, not least the appointments of comically unqualified members of their team. From an energy secretary (Rick Perry) who, until his appointment, campaigned for the disbandment of the very department he now heads to the education secretary (Betsy Devos) who, during her confirmation hearing, displayed all the academic prowess of a suddenly sentient blobfish – as equally bamboozled by its sentience as its inexplicable appearance in the US Senate.
Maybe we shouldn’t be too quick to mock though – let us not forget (as if we’re given a moment to) that our foreign secretary has blundered his way into that position via an avalanche of abominable bumbleballs and the education secretary while I was teaching (Michael Gove) had all the experience and compassion you’d expect from a man whose encounters with education began and ended with a cheque stub. And now, as I write this, Toby Young has been appointed to the board of the new universities regulator – a man whose misogyny has been well-catalogued throughout the years and who once said of teaching that: ‘..compared to a lot of other jobs, it’s not that tough.’ Quickly, give that man an influential career in education!
Is it just possible that in order to appreciate the complexities of a sector and be able to make well-informed and sustainable progress we should be looking to those who have at least a passing interest in the relevant department? These kinds of roles, especially in the case of education, can’t simply be handed out according to black book contacts or bank balance contents but must seek occupancy by those individuals who’ve made it their life’s work to improve the lot of all involved. Headteachers, school governors and plain old teachers work hard every day to make their schools a better place, so maybe, just maybe, they could apply the same principles to schools across the country and make a real difference in our education system.
The current Secretary of State for Education qualified from London Business School and worked as an accountant/finance manager for huge multinationals like PriceWaterhouseCoopers and GlaxoSmithKline before entering politics. But then, you probably could’ve guessed that. (Ahem, Tories, ahem) I can’t use my QTS for a position in politics – explain to me again how it works the other way round?