Curriculum Cop 11
Secondary Post Moderns
9am The overthrow of the toffs by Big Mother Theresa has led to a veritable revolution in education policy, Operation Secondary Modern. Whereas under Posh Dave, the whole of state-funded education was written off, now a desperate attempt is being mounted to save the top 15-20% of the plebs through the reintroduction of selection and a return to secondary modern schools. Here the great majority can undergo what is, in effect, an intellectual lobotomy, getting them ready for their grim, joyless, insecure futures, while the top 15-20% can be siphoned off to grammar schools where they can be assessed to see if they are public school compatible or not. This is how it used to be done in the 1950s and 1960s apparently. Obviously there have been casualties. Knuckles Morgan has been disappeared while young Giles, Posh Dave's Etonian special adviser on education, has been pensioned off to the House of Lords, a sad fate for someone only eighteen years old. Still that's politics. No room for sentimentality.
The line from Number 10 is that we have to only talk about grammar schools and never mention secondary moderns. Even though they are to be the fate of the overwhelming majority, a crucial element of Operation Secondary Modern is to never mention secondary moderns. They are to become the forgotten wasteland of the education system, invisible, never spoken about, the family shame. The sleight of hand that the new policy requires has already begun: the new boss, Justine Greenie, has actually said that every school can opt to become a grammar school! She might just be an idiot, but personally I think she is trying to spread disinformation and confusion about what Big Mother's plans really amount to. This is the way we are going to have to proceed.
Operation Secondary Modern has to be sold as a policy aimed at helping the disadvantaged, encouraging social mobility and making Britain fairer. As is now customary in British politics, the truth is the exact opposite of what the government says. Mind you, anyone who seriously believes that Big Mother Theresa has any concern for the poor and downtrodden deserves to be shafted. Never seen such a cold, uncaring, callous politician in my life before and I've met Ian Duncan Smith a number of times! The rumour is that Damien Hirst put her together and kept her in one of his formaldehyde tanks but she escaped and inevitably married a banker and became a Tory MP. Half shark, half gorgon, she really is the stuff of nightmares. It would take a headectomy to stop her in her relentless campaign to grind the faces of the poor. As she so eloquently puts it: "Fuckit means Fuckit".
10am "I know nothing whatsoever about education and I'm not going to be here long", says Greenie. "The best way to regard me is as the funnel through which Big Mother pours her bile on the educational hopes of millions. First we have to find a way to reinstate the 11+, whatever that is, and second Big Mother wants as much of education as possible handed over to all the different Gods and their followers. Obviously we want the Christians to get the biggest share, the Church of England rather than the Romans, but all the Gods are welcome to have a slice. I tell her we are looking at the new Crusader chain of Academies which has already put in a bid to become a grammar school chain. There were some problems with bigotry though, but Greenie says we have to forget all this liberal nonsense and concentrate on making her look good for Big Mother. She doesn't want to end up like Morgan and Gove.
11am Now I've got a full day of school inspections to complete. First a visit to the Sir Philip Green Academy. School motto: 'Money. Money. Money. It's a Rich Man's World'. A school without staff or equipment, where all the school funds have been spent on a £200 million super- yacht. The kids are roaming the school grounds, looking for berries. Some of them have put up temporary shelters. It's a 'Lord of the Flies' curriculum, the head tells me when he skypes from the Med. A definite 'Satisfactory'. And a magnificent yacht.
From there on to the next door Taking the Michaela Free School (school motto: 'Suffer Little Children') where the head, Katherine Dothepoor, has been holding kids hostage until their parents pay outstanding debts. There has been a real problem with collecting dinner money apparently. Ms Dothepoor tells me that the kids are kept locked up in isolation on bread and water but some parents just don't care and she might be forced to sell some kids on eBay. She is a favourite with the Tory Party rank and file. She really has the spirit of 'Fuckit means Fuckit' in her DNA.
Then on to the Sports Direct Work Experience Academy, School motto: 'Abandon hope all Ye Who enter here'. The first thing the head, Mike 'Call me Mike' Ashley, says to me when I arrive is: "I have no idea whatsoever about what goes on in this place". We go through the security area where all the kids are searched going in and out and have their electronic tags fitted. Next we are shown the control centre where they track all the kids as they go about their day. The kids are taught how to get the sports goods off the shelves and then take them to be despatched to customers. They spend five years from age eleven doing this and at the end of that time a few who have really got the hang of it are offered jobs. Discipline is strict with kids not being allowed to go to the toilet more than once a week. I ask Mike if it is true that kids urinate in bottles so they don't get into trouble. "I have no idea whatsoever about what goes on in this place", he tells me. After our tour is over, I remark on how hard the kids seem to work. One of Mike's deputies tells me that if I think these kids are working hard, I should see the kids working in the Thai factories where the sports good are made. Mike says: "I have no idea whatsoever about what goes on in this place".
And last of all, for a complete and total contrast, we visit the just opened Brooklyn Beckham Free School, the first post-literate school in the world that specialises in modelling, photography and on how to extravagantly and tastelessly spend huge sums of money on tat. School motto: 'Because We're Worth It'. This school really is a triumph: a state-funded school that celebrities actually want to send their kids to. It's the Brooklyn magic. As the great teenager tells me: "We don't bother with reading and writing in this school. That is so twentieth century. Instead, half the school does modelling and the other half photographs them, and then we do it the other way round in the afternoon. And, of course, there are regular credit card breaks for those luxury items in the school Harrods branch." He tells me he first got interested in photography through his dad's priceless collection of Rembrandt, Turner and Van Gogh photographs. Astonishing, even for a seventeen year old he is so ignorant. I don't know about the 11+ but he wouldn't pass the any fucking plus. Still mustn't criticise, the school is a great success. There is a waiting list to get in. It proves that it doesn't matter who your parents are; with the right education, even complete nonentities can thrive in modern Britain. Even the Brooklyn school uniforms are collectors' items. Each one is individually designed by his mum. They only come in one size, size zero, and retail at £25,000.
One thing that's clear from today's visits: the rich tapestry of education in Britain today.
4pm Spend some time sorting through the kids' books that are still acceptable under the new regime. Out goes The Gove's Tale, the story of a frog kissed by a princess but who still remains half frog; out goes George Oz, the moral tale of the inevitable downfall of a posh boy with a penchant for prostitutes and cocaine and no head for handling money; and out goes Dave and his Pig, the illustrated popular sex education manual that broke all the boundaries and taboos. The Boris Johnson classic, B(ig)F(at)G(it) remains in - just. And in comes Fuckit: the Big Mother Theresa Story, a tremendously stirring story of one woman's relentless fight against social mobility, fairness and the disadvantaged.
5pm Meeting with Greenie. She has been doing some research on Wikipedia and has discovered what the 11+ and grammar schools are. "Everyone took a test at the age of eleven and then the middle class kids who passed went to schools modelled on the public schools while everyone else went to holding schools called secondary moderns until they could go out to work. What is amazing is that every year the number of kids who passed was exactly the same as the number of grammar school places available. Really shows how good the tests were. What we've got to do is reintroduce the 11+ so we can start sending lots of middle class kids to grammar schools again and the rest to secondary moderns, although Big Mother says we can't call them that". Greenie asks for possible names. 'Nonacademies', 'Unfree Schools', 'BogStandards', 'Drone Colleges', 'Prole Schools', 'Sink Academies', 'Failure Factories', but in the end the best we can come up with is 'Secondary Post Moderns', which can, of course, mean anything we want. I point out one problem: as we have spent the last fifteen years dismantling the state education system, how the fuck are we meant to introduce a grammar school system?
Must remember to watch the new Channel Five hit series hosted by Big Mother herself tonight: The Great British Fuck Off. Contestants representing various immigrant groups have to convince an audience of UKIP supporters that they should be allowed to stay in the country. So far there have been no winners. Compelling viewing.