Went on the telly again today. I’ve done pretty much all the BBC shows now; the camera loves me! Did a great one today. The presenter praised my ‘common sense’ and said I was ‘clearly erudite’. A kindly old Labour peer and a kindly old Tory peer both listened to me very politely and talked about what a great job teachers like me do!
When I got back to school I ran into Misguided who was green with envy and a bit put out at having had to cover my lesson.
He asked me, ‘Why do you keep going on TV and claiming we need to reintroduce end of year exams and benchmarking when we do have end of year exams for every year group and always have? Exams that are graded, with grades sent home to parents and passed out to children who then compare results with their peers – is that not what you mean by benchmarking?’
‘Firstly, you shouldn’t always believe what you see me saying on television. They use lighting in the studios and there’s a big crew of people… it’s quite technical and complex, you know, in the media. Secondly, yuh-huh? Next question.’
I had him on the back foot.
‘I don’t understand what you just said,’ he said. He was obviously feeling insecure so I decided to go easy on him and tone it down a bit. I sometimes forget how easily these long-haired secondary modern liberals can become bamboozled by my Oxford debating skills.
‘Throw me another one,’ I offered. ‘Challenge me. I’m ready for it. I can explain my position clearly without resorting to the same vague and mostly invented anecdotal evidence, time after time.’
‘Okay,’ he took the bait, ‘how about this dumbing down of exams claim that you keep making, based on that one O Level maths paper we looked at a couple of years ago in the staffroom. If we make exams harder, how will that help improve the situation for the kids who are currently failing the ‘easy’ exams? Many of whom, as you point out, are the poor and disadvantaged kids who most need our help.’
‘Kids need to fail!’
‘But they’re already failing.’
‘They need to fail more!’
‘But I thought they needed to do better?’
‘Shouldn’t you be preparing your next lesson or something? I’ve got a meeting with the governors,’ I said, letting him down gently and allowing him to save face.