So, forty-fifth in a series of things I never expected to write is a shout-out to (Sir) Dan Moynihan, high heidyin of the Harris academy chain. He’s said to be a bit of a recluse which only means that he doesn’t appear endlessly on social media. And when he does its usually other people talking about his salary, but that’s not on today’s agenda. No, Moynihan was on a panel at the Tory conference.
Trade paper Schools Week had it all:
On Peckham: "Staff spent no end of time trying to get people into accommodation, night-by-night, and provide them food from a food bank because they don’t have cooking facilities".
On mental health: "Somebody needs to do something about the structure and resourcing of provision for mental health in local authorities and also for special needs. They’re stretched to hell, they can’t deliver. It’s not just about money, it’s about money and reform."
On outcomes: “For me, any government worth the title – whichever colour it is – would be addressing that head on and having a national debate about what we’re going to do with the underachievement of some key groups [he was particularly talking about disadvantaged white children] that do really, really badly". This is a “perennial problem that clearly is a criminal waste of talent. If we’re going to be a country that competes with the best in the world, we can’t be writing off a large section of our population.”
On knife crime: "Endemic" in some London boroughs but “we don’t hear much about it other than we see the faces on the television of the latest kid who’s been stabbed. If this was in Surrey we’d be seeing it and hearing about it. We’re not seeing and hearing about it when it’s in Southwark or Croydon. What’s the strategy to tackle knife crime?”
On the whole boiling: “We now need more than education. We need the other services as well, and somebody needs to find a solution to that in policy terms rather than ignore it.”
Well, that covers the ground. I bet they’re sorry they invited him. I wonder what will happen next? Oh, sorry, we know: an announcement abut mobile phones that is years out of date, and something about reforming A levels, as if this government had time to eat that particular elephant. The whole will-he won’t-he HS2 debacle is calculated to obscure these concerns. As long as people are talking about trains, they’re not talking about any of the above. Hats orf to you, Sir.
Someone sent me a favourite quote from Kafka last week, from the Zurau Aphorisms of 1917-18:
Leopards break into the temple and drink all the sacrificial vessels dry; it keeps happening ; in the end, it can be calculated in advance and is incorporated into the ritual.
Mind, I’d better be careful. The Guardian’s found out that the DfE are keeping tabs on educators criticising government policy on social media and leaning on organisers to cancel conferences with potentially critical speakers. Have a look at this. Kafka? Orwell? Stalin? Mao? What do they think they’re doing? And who for? How will they cancel Sir Dan?
Head of PE leapt up the stairs behind the puffing Year 7s and I asked what on earth he’d done to them. He opined that some will need to work hard on their fitness, but that’s what PE’s for. It’ll take time and patience, good people and encouragement, thought and determination to help, but that’s his stock-in-trade.
It’s time to redefine what we want from education and what we hope for all our children. It's time to spend the nation’s money correctly, for the future. It's time to stop factoring in despair as an unavoidable part of British life.
We can get leopards out of the temple.