Election Re-sits Announced

http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/apr/07/tories-resits-pupils-fail-end-primary-school-exams-key-stage-2

Following today’s announcement that 11 year olds who fail their KS2 SATS will be required to continue to retake them again and again and again until they pass, All Change Please! has learnt that the Conservatives also plan to rush through new legislation to ensure they are returned to power in the forthcoming election.

According to a top secret, highly confidential memo specially leaked for All Change Please! readers’ eyes only, in future any member of the electorate who fails to vote Tory will be required to cast their vote again and again until finally they end up putting their X in exactly the right box, next to the Conservative candidate.

Sir Hugh Dingbat-Smythe (Con), an anonymous Tory spokesperson, explained: ‘There will doubtless be a few maverick loony-left marxists who will claim that we should take different styles of policy into account, but this would be a waste of time because we know for a fact that our policies are the only ones that work, and it’s just a matter of forcing everyone to agree with us.’

In a desperate attempt to behave as proper professional journalists All Change Please! contacted Barbara Sturgeon, the popular Radio 2 and Radio Kent presenter, who is believed to be no relation whatsoever to Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader, but she was unavailable for comment. We therefore turned to our pet Millipede, Ed, but he had gone out to stretch his legs so was unable to confirm or deny his response.

The case continues.

Just a spoonful of knowledge

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While some of the newly set-up Free Schools aim to provide a more enlightened approach to teaching and learning, others offer a very traditional academic curriculum, providing a service to parents who for some mysterious reason want their children to suffer such an education. In these Free Schools knowledge acquisition and recall is the focal point of the curriculum, and facts and figures are regularly spoon-fed to students. Of course that’s great for getting good grades at GCSEs and A levels, but the problem is that when their pupils eventually get out into the real world they are going to find it doesn’t quite work like that, and they are likely to lose out in the employment market to applicants who can already demonstrate high levels of fluency in problem-solving and communication skills, IT capability and a willingness to collaborate and create.

But if a school is going to insist on offering and delivering an intensely academic approach, it might as well do it properly, which is what this free school appears committed to doing.

Here’s an extract from one of their Knowledge Organisers which ‘organise all the most vital, useful and powerful knowledge on a single page.’  This Year 7 example is taken from a unit on Apartheid South Africa that deals with ‘the timeline, activists, quotations and political and legal vocabulary.’

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Ignoring the fact that all the facts above can actually be easily found on the internet as and when needed in life, All Change Please! just couldn’t resist coming up with its own Teacher Training Knowledge Organiser taken from its Unit on the History of British Education:

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 20.56.14The fact is that there are just two facts everyone needs to take away after reading this post:

1. Nelson Mandela was central to the success of the South African Apartheid movement in the latter part of the 20th Century.
2. Michael Gove was central to the collapse of the English education system in the early part of the 21st Century.

Meanwhile the entirely fictitious All Change Please! Academy has commissioned a series of Knowledge Disorganisers in which completely random facts and figures are assembled together to promote thinking about completely new ways of creatively connecting the world together in the future.

Have a good Easter, that is if you are not too busy marking GCSE Coursework.

 

Image credit: Flickr/Ginny Washburn

 

Nice work if you can get it

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Next student to see the teacher please!

Ah, do come in. Now what can I do for you today?

Well I was wondering if you had got my test results back yet?

Let me see now. Ah Yes. Here they are. Hmm. You better take a seat and prepare yourself for some very bad news. I’m afraid you’ve only got a predicted D grade in GCSE Chemistry, and I’m sorry to inform you that only have six months left to revise in before you reach your terminal examination.

Oh dear. That’s terrible. There must be something you can do for me?

Well I could put you on a long-term series of personalised ChemoTheory sessions, but I’m afraid that’s only available in fee-paying schools, so unless you’ve got private school care insurance I’m afraid you won’t be able to afford it.

However, instead I am allowed to prescribe you a course of new scientifically unproven Govicol, but I should warn you it’s rather indigestible and you will have to be spoon-fed it. And what’s more it not only has a nasty taste but has a whole range of unpleasant educational side-effects.

But what about the new more modern methods that have been developed?

Ah, well I’m sorry to say that the government has informed us that they have been proved to be quite unreliable, so we’re now we’re having to go back and use more traditional 19th century methods. I could probably let you have a slate and some chalk if you want?

Err, no thanks. Haven’t you got anything a bit more progressive, like a tablet of some sort?

I’ll tell you what I can do. Here, take these. They are a set of standard government approved exercises you can self-administer three times a day. But do be careful when you download them – make sure you don’t end up with a nasty virus as well.

Government approved? But you’re a highly qualified and experienced teacher, can’t you tell me what specific exercises would be best for me?

Good heavens, no! What do you think this is – the NHS? We don’t have anything nearly as NICE. While they might have a professional body that guides doctors and nurses and advises on best practice and quality standards, we teachers have to rely on government ministers who know absolutely nothing about education, except of course they went to school once, or at least I’ve been told some of them have.

But I thought the Government was about to announce a Royal College of Teaching. Won’t that make a difference?

Yes, curious that, isn’t it? Just a few weeks before the General Election, and all those teachers’ votes to go for. Unfortunately the proposed college only covers teacher training and defining professional standards for teachers – not what they should teach. And also as a government quango it will probably be overseen by a bureaucratic body that won’t be independent or include any teachers – because of course apparently teachers don’t know anything about teaching, despite the fact they went to school once too, just like the politicians.

So is there nothing else you can do for me?

Well, no, it’s up to you really. Just make sure you keep taking the five-subjects-a-day you need to achieve the required levels of EBaccteria. And keep reading the textbooks until you’ve finished the full course of treatment.

Well, time’s up. Don’t forget to drop off another specimen of your work next week.

And shut all the doors to your future as you leave please.

NEXT!

 

Image credit: Flickr/Rusty Ferguson

Who Ya Gonna Call?

MYTHBUSTERSfeature-ghostbusters

Traditional educationalists and politicians are currently obsessed with ‘de-bunking’ so-called educational myths which oddly enough seem to be primarily about so-called progressive teaching methods.  Always the one to keep up with current trends, All Change Please! thought it was time to indulge in some myth-busting of its own. And here’s what it came up with.

Myth 1: The Earth goes round the Sun
This one is pretty obvious. Of course it doesn’t. The clue is in the words Sunrise and Sunset. Now if they had been called Earthrise and Earthset it might have been a bit more believable.

Myth 2: The Earth is a sphere and spins at around 1000mph
This is a bit daft isn’t it? If it were round, things would keep sliding about and rolling off everywhere. But they don’t do they, so it must be flat? And if it really was spinning at that sort of speed we wouldn’t be able to stand upright, would we?

Myth 3: Data can be transmitted vast distances using electromagnetic waves
Now this is just plain ridiculous. Are you having me on? Have you ever actually seen one of these so called waves? I mean how could they possibly almost instantaneously travel all that distance and then pass though solid walls? This is all probably just one of those magic illusions set up by Derren Brown.

Myth 4: You shouldn’t believe anything you read in the Daily Mail
This can’t be correct because it says in the Daily Mail that everything they print is true.

Myth 5: Children go to school and learn lots of useful facts that will set them up for life
Now anyone who has ever been to school knows this one is a complete myth, unless of course they happen to be a traditional teacher or a politician.

Myth 6: All children learn and make progress in exactly the same way at exactly the same speed and age. It’s just that some seem to be better at doing so than others
This myth comes in very handy because if you believe this it means you can teach everyone the same facts in the exactly the same way.

Myth 7: Project work and collaboration are an unnecessary distraction from real learning, and anyway students just sit around chatting about what they saw on TV last night
If you believe Myth 6, you will probably believe this one as well because the reality is that creating successful learning situations involving project work and collaboration is demanding and risky. And anyway, watching TV is just so 20th Century.

Myth 8: Making examinations harder to pass means lazy, good for nothing teachers will work harder and children will learn more
Wrong again. It just means that more teachers will leave the profession and more children will leave school without any qualifications.

Myth 9: Collecting vast amounts of data on children’s day-to-day performance in school improves their education
No teacher actually believes this to be true, and knows for certain it is all a complete waste of time.

Myth 10: The traditional model of formal schooling is completely out-dated in the 21st Century, and children would be better off at home learning from their computers and each other
There might be some truth in this, but there again we do need someone to keep an eye our children and make sure they don’t become terrorists while we’re both out at work trying to earn enough to pay the mortgage.

Another shot of slimy green ectoplastic residue anyone?

Evidently not?

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Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

Recently there’s been a welcome move to promote the idea that teachers should become more involved in undertaking classroom-based educational research – something that All Change Please!, having been involved in a number of such initiatives over the years, fully supports, even if it’s not sure where the time or money will come from.

The current trending organisation in the field is probably researchED, somewhat worryingly established by this character who is well-known in certain more progressive circles for the mythical myths he is intent on challenging and for his general lack of open-mindedness for anything that’s not obviously ‘traditional’. The emphasis sometimes seems to be more about working out what doesn’t work rather than what might do.

Anyway, presumably the result of all this research will be what seems to be the current holy grail: evidence. These days it is difficult to do anything new or possibly risky unless its success can be absolutely guaranteed by so-called ‘evidence’ that apparently proves once and for all that it will work for everyone everywhere. There seems to be an unshakeable belief in the unarguable accuracy of just a single piece of evidence, even though such evidence is not  the same thing as actual proof.

So how actually reliable is all this evidence, or ‘findings’ as it is sometimes referred to? Even supposedly objective scientific evidence has problems of reliability: a researcher doesn’t have to admit that, say, a particular drug company (or for that matter a global personalised educational resource organisation) is sponsoring their work, or that they are only drawing on a certain set of data because the other set doesn’t happen to support their theory. Or whether there might actually be some disagreement amongst the great and the good statisticians about how the data can be reliably interpreted. Or that they are only running certain tests because they don’t have the budget to pay for the other ones. And of course more subjective evidence can be even less reliable when based on perhaps a number of small-scale case studies from practice-based researchers, a few carefully selected interviews with ‘experts in the field’ and a questionnaire or two. Would you believe it – apparently 98.6% of all statistics are entirely fictitious?

Then there is the way in which the results are presented – usually statistical data that is either difficult for the non-statistician to interpret, or more seductively shown as a carefully edited, visually powerful infographic or multimedia PowerPoint in which the message has been suitably massaged to seemingly demonstrate what the researcher wants you to believe is true. This becomes even more believable when fronted by someone who has some ‘celebrity’ status within the community. Then if the findings get repeated and referenced often enough it somehow ends up becoming an irrefutable true ‘fact’. It seems the proof of the pudding is in the presentation.

Let’s take the example of Little Missy Morgan’s recent and quite ludicrous statement that taking a week’s holiday in term-time will mean that a student will do substantially less well in their GCSEs and fail to meet the so-called ‘Gold’ standard. She might have some rather unreliable evidence in terms of misleadingly analysed statistical data but that does no more than suggest what she says might be true. What she doesn’t have though is any actual proof that involves a wide range of different types of convincing evidence that removes all doubt. The problem is that we have been conditioned by the media to accept isolated examples of evidence as absolute fact.

In terms of the results of educational research, given the extraordinary diversity of children, teachers, classrooms and schools, what works in one situation might well prove to be a complete disaster in another. And in the case of the research aiming to reinforce the notion that traditional tired and detested teaching methods are universally best for everyone in every situation, the result is usually seen as a mandate to dismiss any need for perhaps doing things differently. While the current oft-quoted data might initially seem to bust the myths that there might be such things as learning styles, effective group work, benefits in using IT, or worthwhile child-centred learning, the majority of teachers will tell you precisely the opposite, based simply on what they’ve observed and found to actually work for them and their students. Just because there’s no established evidence to support such approaches, doesn’t mean they can’t or don’t work.

Meanwhile research is not just about proving things are right or wrong because repeatable events have been defined, but also about asking new questions and exploring new ideas – and that’s exactly what’s needed now in our out-dated educational system. Let’s hope the emerging educational research community focuses on the latter rather than trying to provide highly unreliable data that apparently proves that a particular political mindset, delivery methodology or commercial product is the one solution that can be guaranteed to work for everyone.

And as for the reliability of the evidence of a student’s capability provided by GCSE and A level results…

Or the extent of the proof of the quality of a school’s performance found in an Ofsted report?

 

Image credit: Flickr/Jim Roberts  modified by TS

The Cordon Blues

1s-5126717777_65394ea08b_oCheers!

‘Teenagers studying for a new GCSE in food preparation will have to know how to portion a chicken, fillet a fish and julienne vegetables, as well as make a variety of sauces from hollandaise and mayonnaise to veloute, bechamel and plain old gravy. The rigorous new examination for 16-year-olds will require them to be able to tenderise, marinate, blanch, poach, fry and braise – as well as make their own pasta, choux pastry, bread and tagine.’                                   From The Guardian

Posh and wealthy Tory-voting land-owning bankers, solicitors and lawyers all heaved a sight of relief last week when the details of the tough new GCSE qualification in Food Preparation and Nutrition were published by the government, allaying fears that the projected short-fall of master-chefs would lead to a reduction in the number of expensive restaurants for them to dine at, together with the consequent need to find other ways of spending their excessive amounts of disposable income.

The increased theoretical content of the GCSE course also means that it will be only taken by the more academically-able, thus ensuring that chefs will be able to conduct intelligent discourse both in the kitchens and with customers. “Thank goodness that in future there will be no more swearing in the kitchens”, said one restaurateur. “I look forward to our kitchen staff quoting Shakespeare rather than the Simpsons.”

Meanwhile spokespersons for McDonalds and Subway, who between them seem to employ the vast majority of today’s school-leavers, confirmed that while the new GCSE would be a desirable facilitating subject, it would not be an essential requirement for future job applicants, as there was not a great deal of demand for ‘palmiers, batons, dextrinisation and gas-in-air foam’ in their outlets. Furthermore they did not think customers would welcome having to decide whether they wanted their burger ‘tenderised, marinated, blanched, poached, fried or braised?’

According to the Guardian, Chef, food writer and campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (real name: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall) said he would be very happy for any of his children to take the GCSE. “Thank goodness we can all now get back to the way things were in the good old days when the rich ate extremely well and the poor starved”, he didn’t add.

The course replaces the current GCSE in Food Technology which required students to learn about how food products are produced industrially and to solve complex, open-ended problems concerning quality control, scaling up for batch and mass production along with marketing and packaging. This often involved creativity and collaborative team work, skills that will no longer required in the forthcoming 19th Century.

 

And finally, in other news, the entirely fictitious Waitrose Academy Chain has announced an end to their offer of a free daily education. To qualify, parents will have to in future also purchase a treat from the school shop, such as a new item of uniform, sports equipment or educational outing. “We always knew that the offer of a free education for all had to end sometime, but I think they could have perhaps found a better solution” said one disappointed yummy mummy as she paid out for yet another new hockey stick that her wheelchair-confined child didn’t really need.

“Unfortunately our schools were just not making enough profit”, the Headteacher and Chairman of the Academy explained. “However we will still be offering a free takeaway lesson from our customer service desks”.

 

Image credit: Flickr/Eric Baker

Alas! Schools and Journos: Have you ever Bean Green?

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Mel Smith, as the man who thinks he knows everything, and Griff Rhys Jones, as the man who knows he knows nothing, return to catch up on what’s been happening in education, ill-informed as always by the Great British Press.

Smith: Haven’t seen you around for a while then?

Jones: No, not much has been happening recently has it, especially now that Gove chappie has been permanently excluded from schools?

Well, my friend, just wait until you see this in the papers – apparently last summer not nearly as many children managed to pass their GCSEs

Oh, so weren’t they very bright then?

No, no, no, it wasn’t that at all.

All their teachers went on strike then?

No, no. Listen, what happened was that the Tories made the exams they sat much harder to pass. They thought that would make all the kids cleverer.

Oh. That wasn’t a very clever idea then, was it?

Precisely.

And it’s a bit unfair on a whole generation of teenagers who now won’t have as good qualifications as their elders? And I expect all the schools requiring improvement will be given those special tape measures now?

What? Anyway I’ll tell you something else. You won’t believe this. Listen, it says in the paper that apparently a lot of your posh public schools have gone right off the boil and are now at the bottom of all the league tables.

What you mean they are in the Vauxhall league?

Yes, sort of, except it’s now called the Vanarama League.

Vananarama? Is that a new girl-power band or something then?

No, apparently it’s a van leasing company, but that’s not got anything to do with what I’m telling you.

So Eton and Harrow have gone into the van-hire business now then?

No, no, no. Do try and pay attention. It seems their students were all taking the wrong sort of exams that didn’t count in the league tables anymore.

Why were they doing that then?

Because the public schools say the exams their students did were harder than the GCSEs, but the DfE says their new exams are now the most difficult.

Ah, they’re both playing hard to get then?

Yes, I suppose you could say that.  Well it just goes to show you only get what you Gove, don’t you? Anyway, what’s more Camoron wants all schools to be above average in Maths. That’s going to be a bit of a challenge. And then there’s this Little Missy Morgan who’s all in a spin and is going to sack headteachers if they don’t improve their children’s literacy.

Well, it’s important kids learn to throw their litter away in a bin isn’t it?

Exactly. And then there’s their numeracy.

What’s that then?

You know – learning their tables.

Oh, you mean like the difference between a dining table and a bedside table? Why’s that important then?

Well I suppose if you went to IKEA, you’d want to be sure you were buying the right sort of table wouldn’t you?

Yes, and they could use those special tape measures to make sure they were getting the right size.

Anyway after the election in May everything will be different when the Greens get in.

Who are these Greens then? Are they from Mars?

No, don’t be daft. Well I don’t think they are anyway – though looking at some of their policies…

You mean our politicians will all be like green vegetables – sort of limp and tasteless and foul-smelling?

Yes, I expect so.

Oh.  No change there then?

Anyway, I suppose at least they will have a lot of posh vans and drivers to move them around in.

BROKEN NEWS…

5179626687_0c40c7ab41_zLong delays expected in any sort of change

Statement to Parliament: GCSE in design and technology: delay in teaching

Further to its statement today that new Design and Technology GCSEs are now to be delayed a further year until first examination in 2019, the government has also announced that all new UK industrial and technological development will be delayed until the same date. As a result no new or upgraded TVs, mobiles, computers or any other technologically advanced products will now be made available to consumers until the summer of 2019.

This is in order to give ministers a chance to catch up on what is going on in the world today and to be able to prepare better informed spin, thus avoiding the sort of embarrassment that followed David Cameron’s recent quite impractical, crazy ‘cloud cuckoo land’ proposals to ban the use of certain social network apps.

Meanwhile between now and 2017, some one million children will be denied the chance to undertake a GCSE course in Design and Technology that is more appropriate to the 21st century than to the 19th and 20th – though this will not be a problem as the UK will have got correspondingly further and further behind the rest of the world.

These changes will ensure that the UK prepares students and businesses well for life in a slowly changing, largely backward-looking world“, Nick Glibb didn’t say as he completely failed to grasp the irony in his actual statement that change in educational provision was being slowed down to meet the needs of a rapidly changing world.

This will give us all that little bit more time to find a dictionary in order to find out what the word ‘Iterative’ means.” Glibb glibbly continued. “After all this approach to design was only identified by the Assessment of Performance Unit in the 1989, so by 2019 children will only be 30 years behind the time.”

 

Photo credit: Flickr/Will Clouser

 

Chinese Takeaways

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Creativity lessons in China: How many different uses can you think of for a pair of chopsticks?

China turns to UK for lessons in design and technology – Education

All Change Please! didn’t quite know whether to laugh or cry when it read the above story. It covered the announcement that there’s a crisis in China and they need to adopt a more creative approach in their schools to enable their nation to be able to design as well as make stuff in the future. To help solve the problem they paid for a delegation of D&T teachers from the UK to go out and advise them.

Partly because no-one had invited it on a freebie trip to China, but mostly because it wondered what effective advice the delegation might be able pass on, All Change Please! thought it would provide its own D&T ‘Takeaways’ for the Chinese Government, based on established UK practice:

1. Get a politician to develop the specification for D&T, based on her limited experience of what she did in school in the early 1990s. Ensure Horticulture is included simply as a result of pressure from a powerful parliamentary lobby group.

2. Develop an examination system that makes is as easy as possible to objectively assess performance, and consequently penalises students who take risks and demonstrate creativity and initiative.

3. Ensure the final examination includes a rigorous written paper that does not in any way measure design capability but is worth at least half of the marks.

4. Encourage every school to buy a 3D printer so they can mass-produce little green dragons to sell to willing parents in order to raise money to buy another 3D printer to produce even more little green dragons.

5. Decrease the status of the subject by significantly undermining its value in school league tables, so as to suggest it is only suitable for low-ability children.

6. Fail to give D&T a central role in unifying STEM (or better still STEAM) subjects, and build Great Walls between all subjects.

7. Ensure a substantial shortfall of suitably qualified teachers by drastically cutting back the number of available teacher training courses.

8. And – most important of all – fail to make any substantial investment in staff development over an extended period of time, i.e. a minimum of 25 years.

Fortune Cookie* say:  if China can manage to completely ignore All Change Please!‘s Takeaways, then we might indeed soon be seeing more things that are labelled Designed and Made in China. Especially as All Change Please! has every confidence that the DATA delegation will have passed on rather more positive advice of its own.

‘We were most interested to learn that Junk Modelling did not involve making scale replicas of boats’, a spokesperson for the Chinese government didn’t say. ‘The delegation offered to send us Michael Gove and Elizabeth Truss to advise us further on a long term basis, but we said No thanks – not for all the D&T in China’.

‘However we are planning to stage the John Adams’ Opera Dyson In China.’

* Myth-busting fascinating fact: Chinese Fortune Cookies were actually invented in Japan and popularised by the US in the early 20th Century. They are not eaten in China. Well that’s what it says on Wikipedia, anyway.

Image credit: Flickr/Simon Law

Goves and Dolls

51BZN5STVRLGuys and Dolls was a Broadway musical first performed in 1950, and followed by the highly successful film version in 1955. The plot is based on a number of humorous and sentimental short stories written in the 1930s by Damon Runyon, in which the main character is often to be found eating cheesecake at Mindys in New York and trying to keep out of trouble while influencing events that usually involve gangsters, gambling or women, and often all three, from a distance.

Other regulars include characters such as Harry the Horse, Edward the Educated and Dave the Dude. An unusual and distinctive feature of the stories is that they are written in the present tense, have no contractions (e.g.’ he is’ instead of ‘he’s’) and reflect the New York underground gangland dialect of the time. This style and characterisaton is often referred to as being ‘Runyonesque’.

So All Change Please! is therefore proud to present its own Runyonesque, very short Christmas story entitled Goves and Dolls.

“One morning shortly before the end of the Christmas Term I am busy sitting in the school dining room minding my own business as usual, and reading a piece in the paper about how Big Micky Gove is still trying to influence education policy and not letting Little Missy Morgan get on with her job. Around the table with me are Duncan the Deputy, Alan the Author, Tony the Technology, and lastly Pearson the Prophet, with whom I should point out we do not regularly socialise as we do not like the future he foretells. We are very much enjoying our slices of the lovely Linda Lasagne the Dinner Lady’s cheesecake, which, this being the festive season, comes with a small sprig of holly and a merry paper napkin.

Then suddenly, and somewhat unusually for the dinner hall, everything goes quiet and I become aware of something large and red standing in front of me. I look up and to begin with I am much surprised to see a man all dressed up in a Father Christmas outfit. But I’m even more surprised when Santa removes his hood and white beard to reveal himself as none other than Big Mickey Gove.

“I’m sorry to interrupt your break-time” he says politely, because he is nothing if not polite, “but I believe you’ve been looking for me?”

Now I don’t want to be involved in any trouble, so I say “Who me? No! But I guess the person you are referring to is All Change Please!, with whom I do occasionally socialise through a certain electronic social media channel.”

But of course I do not reveal exactly how closely connected I am, for fear I will thought to be part of the infamous Blob he so despises and hates with all his heart and every bone in his body.

“Well”, says Big Mickey, “I wonder if you’d be so good to kindly inform All Change Please! that I don’t want it to start publishing any posts based on absolutely untrue and quite unbelievable stories that are recently appearing in the papers about me still trying to influence education. I’m still supposed to be in hiding behind the scenes, secretly meddling with things that are really none of my business. And then there’s my future media career to think of too. So unless it wants to find another world in which to live, please be so good as to tell it to desist its damaging diatribes.”

So I tell Big Mickey that sure I will pass on his message, but that of course I have no say in what actually gets published, and he wisely replaces his hood and beard and gets up and makes for the front door. Outside I cannot help but notice one of his little helpers sitting by his sledge looking cold and miserable, and because I see it is a character of a female persuasion, and naturally I have a certain soft spot for dolls, I find myself going over to ask if there is anything wrong and that I might be able to help with.

But here I am in for another big surprise because it turns out to be Missy Morgan herself.

“No, there’s nothing you can do.” she sobs, “All I want to do is be teacher’s friend, build bridges, mend fences, lighten their burden and many other somewhat simplistic and cliched metaphors. And I really didn’t mean to say studying the Arts was a waste of time the other day you know, it just sort of came out all wrong. And then Big Mickey is always calling me up or dropping by and putting pressure on me not to change any of his policies however silly and unworkable they are.

“Wait, maybe there is something you could do? I have heard that you have some influence with that sometimes slightly satirical All Change Please! blog? Perhaps you could ask it to write a sympathetic piece that will make me seem like a nice, kind, caring and sensitive education secretary?”

Well I can never resist a dame in distress and I am known to be a bit of a sentimentalist at times, so I tell her that next time I chance to have discourse with All Change Please! I will be sure to put in a good word for her. But as far as Big Mickey Gove is concerned he just deserves whatever is coming to him.

At that moment Gove shouts for her to get back on board, and he ascends into the sky, loudly cracking his government whip. Well he must be very busy at present as I guess he must have an awful lot of encyclopedias and King James’ Bibles to deliver to schools before Christmas. Anyone want to take a bet on exactly how many?

Any chance of some more cheesecake, Linda? After all I need to build up my strength in order to write this year’s Christmas Blogpost…”

You can download some of Damon Runyon’s short stories here, or enjoy an Old Time Radio Dramatisation below. (starts at approx 1.00 min)