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Diary of a Schoolteacher: Since when did businessmen suddenly become experts on our education system?

Over the last two weeks, thanks to the Easter holidays, I've enjoyed catching up with what our radio 'experts' have had to say about the current state of the Irish education system and our unions' conferences.

Radio is best for this type of thing as the speakers can be put on the spot and made wriggle whereas print media gives them too much time to cover all options.

There's no better way to keep up to date with what people out there are saying about us teachers while drying the dishes on a Saturday afternoon. When I couldn't find anything beyond ads, sport and Rihanna on the Irish stations I switched to Any Questions on BBC Radio 4.

Immediately I struck gold with UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage holding forth in characteristic English right-wing 'why oh why can't we..?' and then describing how a friend of his had recently taken over a big school in Kent with the aim of making sweeping improvements.

Only problem, according to Nigel, is that about one-in-five of the teachers in this new Kent Academy wasn't up to the job.

Now although Nigel's head teacher friend wanted to sack the dud one-fifth he found he couldn't because they were public servants. A few days later I hear the same thing being discussed on Irish radio.

I'll only say this time it was the same old Irish media ploy of asking an indigenous captain of industry for an opinion on what we should do to those evil, lazy teachers with their flared slacks, their elbow patches and Brylcreemed sideburns.

Sure don't we all have an axe to grind with some old git or bossy cow that made our lives a misery when we were taking the Inter Cert? And get this: this guy, before he built up his company, had been a teacher himself.

Sack the teachers who arrive five minutes late to class and leave five minutes early -- you know the kind, says this businessman, who, let's face it, is only on the show because he's one of the rare ones who didn't buy himself a string of hotels and go bankrupt. Yeah, and while we're at it, why don't we upgrade from slates and chalk to copybooks and pens?

On the BBC another panellist had pointed out that we should trust those who are professional educators to sort out educational problems and that too many people are getting involved in these issues and that she would trust the principal in her kids' school to do exactly that, adding that if Farage was saying that one-in-five teachers needed sacking then it was a case of 'shame on you'.

Strangely enough I found myself not exactly sympathising with this posh Little Englander Eurosceptic, but I did take him seriously. He's a politician and he's supposed to inform himself and find answers to these problems -- but the CEO of a transport company?

It's all just a load of red bull.

Irish Independent