January 26, 2003
Charles Clarke's ears

I keep trying to think of profound things to say about the British government's education policies, but nothing about these policies seems very profound to me. Mildly harmful, but not profound. A relentless drizzle of initiatives. Threats to get rid of silly exams. Threats to introduce different and slightly sillier exams. Policies to allow educational organisations to do new things, like charge higher fees to the people they are teaching, but combined with regulations to ensure that the institutions thus blessed also let in an appropriately diverse intake of students. Fuss, fuss, fuss. Decline, but masked by constant fiddling with the instruments that might have registered decline more clearly. Ever more centralised control by people who have no great optimism about what it might achieve, but who simply don't know what else to do. The British Government doing its thing, in other words.

What effect is our new education minister, Charles Clarke MP, having on British education? Much the same as all his recent predecessors, it seems to me.

From where I sit, by far the most striking thing about this man is the remarkable appearance of his ears, which stick out sideways and make him look like an elephant. This is the best picture of this man I could find, at his own website. (I was reminded of all this by seeing Mr Clarke being impersonated on TV this evening by Rory Bremner.)

I'd be delighted to read opinions about this man and his potential impact upon British education which are more serious than that. If I arrive at any such opinions myself, I'll let you all know.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 09:53 PM
Category: Politics