Thursday, June 14, 2007

Keith Bartley and the Waffen SS

How to win the fans over? That dilemma faces every new player or manager. When Phil Neville arrived at Everton it wasn’t so much the fact that he’d played for Manchester United, it was more his brother Gary ‘I hate Scousers’ Neville. A bit like the new kid in Year 7 who has an obnoxious brother in Year 11.

Phil Neville just got on with it, winning over the fans by his performances on the pitch. One of his early games was at Old Trafford, Everton won a creditable draw and Phil Neville was Man of the Match, ‘whenever I put on the blue jersey I’m a 100% Evertonian’.

The General Teaching Council magazine ‘Teachers’ has a profile of the new Chief Executive Keith Bartley. It started well, on a teaching placement in a ‘tough’ Liverpool school he had a Damascene conversion and realised “this is a really important job”. This was followed by 13 years teaching in schools in Kent and Norwich. Just when it was looking promising there it was, 1999-2003, ASSISTANT DIVISIONAL MANAGER OFSTED.

You may well claim that you tried to ‘change it from within’. However, by 1999 most of the old teacher-friendly HMI inspectors had resigned or been sacked. Colin Richards left Ofsted and delivered a withering attack on the whole inspection process to a House of Commons committee in 1998.

Some people do conceal their past, the German writer Gunter Grass has only recently admitted that at the end of the war, as a 17 year old, he was a member of the Waffen SS. Naturally there is a difference of scale here, the Waffen SS laid waste to most of Europe whereas Ofsted merely confined themselves to the English education system. Similarities? The Waffen SS never did have a ‘Human Relations Department’ and Ofsted have never exactly done ‘touchy feely’.

Bartley is probably one of those grey ‘Vicar of Bray’ bureaucrats who moves effortlessly and seamlessly between organisations without ever challenging the ideology of the regime.

The GTC may have won some Brownie points by attacking the testing system but appointing a former ‘Assistant Divisional Manager of Ofsted’ as their Chief Executive won’t exactly ‘win the fans over’.

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