I could be skirting with trouble with this post but, in my opinion, the most important speech at the Conservative Party Conference was made by Katharine Birbalsingh, a deputy headteacher from Camberwell. She connected with something that has been bothering me big-time for weeks - since I fell into conversation with a seemingly very competent young teacher who had moved from working in Wales to working in England (for family reasons). The response by her school to Ms Birbalsingh's speech is what prevents me from naming names here. But the story is quite terrifying.
In the Welsh school there was discipline, and my 'mole teacher' (this is what we've come to - terrified of Stasi-style management) loved her work, felt valued and positive about her contribution to developing the young people in her care. In her new school she has found total chaos. She is a child minder, rather than a teacher. She cares, but no-one else cares. People who started on their careers as dedicated teachers have been reduced to despair by the school's teaching environment. Several hundred uneducated, illiterate youngsters are released into society every year, devoid of structure, discipline and hope in their lives - feral in their attitude to life. Its a recipe for social disintegration. And nobody cares.
During the early months of the Coalition Government, there has been a lot of debate about changes in how we educate our children. The educational establishment has fought any prospect of change as a tigress defends her cubs. Because none of it has applied to Wales, I have not become hugely engaged with this debate. I only became stirred after speaking to someone at the sharp end of what politically correct claptrap has done to parts of England's education system. The young teacher I spoke to will look elsewhere for a more satisfying job. But the seeds of despair will continue to be sown until school's which perpetrate bad, vary bad education are reformed or closed down.