Scandal of Students Encouraged to Make Satirical Posters of DfE Guru

News erupted yesterday across all national media outlets that a teacher at a school in Fergysville, Devon, instructed his year 9 students at the local Academy school to design satirical posters of Tom Bennett, the DfE discipline and behaviour expert, as well as make videos about the guru’s ideas on how school pupils should be educated. We tracked the teacher at the centre of this controversy to his home also in Fergysville where he agreed to give us an exclusive interview today.

Teacher Michael Glenn told us,

‘Yes, it was the last week before the Easter break and rather than show my classes the film of The Ten Commandments like I have done for the past 30 years around this time, I decided to encourage them to pursue some other activities. I’d always shown the DeMille film really as a kind of personal whim because it is very much about sacrifice and judgement and that seemed to reflect a teacher’s job. However, we had been undertaking research on historical world Tsars, past and present, exploring how this kind of dictatorial leadership compares with our rightly coveted Democracy, and in the students’ group-work research they came up with the name Tom Bennett as a current one here in Great Britain. I pointed out they actually found a political Czar – spelt with a c and z – but let this misnomer go as a positive response to independent learning  and allowed them to run with their self-discovery, suggesting in the circumstances they bring out the comedy of the error. They all then chose the tasks they wanted to use to represent their thoughts and feelings and  most decided to make group posters about Tom Bennett’s role as an un-elected DfE advisor.

To be honest, I’d also set a similar task for my GCSE Media Studies group, but I don’t think I should say much more about that as it is one of the last surviving teaching groups at this level having been almost completely banned nationally. Successive governments haven’t liked how this subject teaches critical thinking because it encourages students to think critically about all kinds of things, like governments.’

When asked how these Easter lessons became national news, Michael Glenn further informed us,

‘A parent had complained to the school about posters and films being made in lessons [they’d read in The Daily Mail or The Telegraph, apparently, these weren’t educational] and then rang the DfE to complain as well. The school got a phone call from someone at the DfE called Mr Drafter who told the Head about what I was doing and explained it had to be stopped immediately. As an Academy school my Head was a little surprised because he told this spokesperson that he thought we had autonomy to teach what we wanted to teach, but Mr Drafter informed him, as the Head later informed me, that wasn’t always the case and this was one of those many cases. Something like that. Anyway, I was instructed to stop and had to spend the rest of the week before Easter break teaching my students how to use exclamation marks! I guess someone then reported the story of this to the media. Probably one of my media studies students, the little ironic so and sos!’

Having contacted the DfE to seek confirmation of Michael Glenn’s story, all we could discover in addition before going to press was from a recorded message on the compulsory academisation of all schools and how this was being legislated to deliver national autonomy to educators.

[Read background story here]

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