Mr Blue Skies : how not to be a good DFE civil servant

From Disappointed Idealist: worth reading and thinking about, as always.

Disappointed Idealist

On my Harris piece, Margaret Tulloch rightly commented on how a banded admissions system could ever be made to work fairly. It reminded me of another old story dredged up from my time in DFE. In essence it’s a cautionary tale about policy-making and how to bugger up a career in the civil service.

I was a high-flying civil servant, making a name for myself in the department as a young team leader after doing my time in Private Office, and was invited, along with a bunch of other bright young things, to a special “blue skies” group to discuss school improvement. The purpose was to consider anything and everything which impacted on school performance, particularly those schools with serious problems of behaviour or achievement.

The group met in the office of Rob Smith, the very senior director of schools branch. Discussion went back and forwards, talking about the role…

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