Under the Mattress

Because the mattress is off the bed ready for turning and new coverings, I can get to all of my stuff in boxes stored beneath.

This is always a nostalgic experience as I am a hoarder of all things ‘past’ – and thankful for that – so findings in a quick search can be welcome reminders as with this:

dfe letter2

This letter refers to a meeting with Angela Rumbold, the then Minister of State (Department of Education and Science), and related to her Education responsibilities.

I was at this time ten years into my English teaching career, having had quite an exciting decade of independence and creativity, but I was now beginning to encounter Government interference in this – the issue at this stage being the proposed reduction of GCSE English coursework from 100% to 70% (yes, this is a haunting example of relativity…)!

I have removed the name of the Assistant Private Secretary but left those of Robin Maxwell-Hyslop and Trevor Green, who have both passed. Trevor Green was my dear friend but also Headteacher at the time, and Robin Maxwell-Hyslop was our school’s constituency MP.

There is no need to go into great detail: what this recalls is a time where in my teaching I was always supported fully by Trevor, and though Maxwell-Hyslop was a Tory MP – and his government was implementing policies with which I and Trevor disagreed – he was always supportive of our 11-18 comprehensive school.

The meeting was successful in as much as I was listened to politely and allowed to express trenchant views, but of course this never had any influence on the policy with which I objected. The circumstances around this will, however, always remind me of how wonderful it was to work with a Headteacher who had your back, but also a local MP who put his constituency responsibilities above and beyond ideology.

They were, quite simply, better times and I was lucky to have had them.

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