And so this morning we gathered early for a staff briefing. It was out of routine from our usual scheduled appointments, so we knew something out of the ordinary was happening.
However, I’m not sure any of us were prepared for what came next as we discovered that our headteacher was welcoming a controversial figure into our corridors for the day in order for him to see an “outstanding comprehensive”. Yes, Michael Gove himself was coming!
Regular readers may remember my first day in this school – a meeting with the head that featured a large flashing image of Mr Gove on a PowerPoint alongside the words “ignore this man”. And yet now he was here, walking among us and through our corridors – a thought which had mixed reviews from colleagues throughout the day.
In all honesty, my day remained largely unaffected – of course, Mr Gove isn’t the largest advocate of the performing arts as we know – although the head was clear to announce that he would be coming to watch our amazing concert band perform, which I hope might have shown him the power of music in education (and how students need a creative platform on which to express themselves away from the textbooks of maths and English).
Although the secretary of state never appeared during my lessons today, I did let my professionalism slip during a discussion with the head and deputy after they had informed me that he may be coming down to my dance club after school.
“Maybe he’ll join in and dance with you,” they joked. To which my response was: “Is that before or after he eradicates my job in the next five years?” The outspoken NQT has struck again. Mental note: must learn to bite my tongue.
The dance club in question is at the start of preparations for our summer musical, therefore his arrival wasn’t welcomed by a burst of dance activity as they were probably hoping.
I was surprised to find an entourage of nearly 20 people trailing after him as he arrived in the studio. He was welcomed by my dance club members, who were wearing boxing gloves and pads ready to learn the choreography for So You Wanna be a Boxer from Bugsy Malone.
(I must admit, the thought did cross my mind that a child might accidentally swing a punch just a little out of formation... I suppose that’s what happens when you are raised in a family where my dad told once me “if I ever saw him, I would run him over”).
I can safely say I didn’t divulge in chit-chat or even shake his hand, but sent a child to be the spokesperson for the club and answer Mr Gove’s questions about dance and what we are working towards. He even asked the child whether they had a good teacher. Thankfully the answer was a flattering one, although I’m still unsure whether I should be insulted that he should even ask.
And after a two-minute Tory whirlwind with an excessive amount of entourage, calm reigned supreme in the studio once again and we were able to continue our rehearsals.
I’d like to hope that Mr Gove not only saw an outstanding comprehensive but also the value of performing arts within our school – although I have a funny feeling that we haven’t changed the world in a day.
Our NQT diarist this year is a teacher of drama and dance at a school in Essex.