Why Sir Alan Steer Should Stick his Stupid Lying Report up his Arse

February 14, 2009

Next time you see the latest news from Australia about the tragic bushfires that have destroyed people, property and nature, I’d like you to try the following thought experiment.

Imagine that you were an Australian firefighter who had seen the fires first hand. Imagine that, while you may not have suffered terribly yourself, you had found it stressful and you were aware that the problem was huge and was wrecking lives. Now imagine that you switched on the television to watch the news and heard there was a new report from a committee headed by a senior firefighter, described as the government’s “bushfire tsar” claiming that there were no bushfires. Imagine that it was claimed that academics recognised the truth that there were no dangerous fires, just poor firefighting. Imagine that a representative from the firefighters’ union appeared to agree with this, carefully suggesting that if firefighters had been better trained then nothing bad would ever happen.

Now imagine that this was followed by an interview with the “bushfire tzar”. Imagine he explained that actually the bushfire problem was less severe than it had ever been and as evidence of this he observed that the Australian Tourist Board hadn’t been complaining about fires. Imagine that, having claimed there wasn’t a problem with bushfires, he conceded there might be a more general environmental problem, but that this problem had been around for hundreds and thousands of years. As proof of this he might suggest that many years ago as a child, perhaps in the Scouts, he saw a campfire, but in all his years as a firefighter he’d never seen a naked flame. Imagine if he then proceeded to pour scorn on the idea that anyone could ever have poured water on fires as there was no evidence that pouring water on fires had ever stopped combustion occurring in the first place. Imagine if he described pouring water on fires as something that showed a lack of intelligence, and complained that people were hypocritical and uncaring if they object to seeing woods burned to the ground. Imagine if he finished by claiming that he’d recognise that his suggestions had been successful if people stopped calling the fire brigade so often.

If you can imagine all this then you can probably imagine how many teachers in Battleground Schools feel about this news report and this interview that followed it early today.

I’m too lazy to reference every experience and every statistic I have ever put on this blog to explain why what Sir Alan is saying is an evil pack of lies. But I am still shocked that he could so blatantly refuse to acknowledge the violence, abuse and disobedience in our schools and the management culture that condones it. This is not just because Steer’s claims contradict my own personal experience in several schools. This is not just because they are countered by what I’ve been told by hundreds of teachers and ex-teachers I’ve met in real life or heard from online, and what’s been said by thousands of teachers in surveys and opinion polls. This is not just because his claims defy reason by suggesting that good relationships cause good behaviour, rather than the other way round, or by claiming that a problem can be both non-existent and a natural and unchanging part of childhood. The reason I am shocked by these claims is because they are such that even a slightly honest man could have found reason not to say such things.

It really wouldn’t take much to realise that this would lead to teachers up and down the country starting their half-term by spitting their coffee at the TV screen. All Sir Alan would have needed to do to test his ideas for plausibility is to put down his fiddle for a moment and sign up as a volunteer firefighter, sorry, secondary supply teacher for a few weeks. This way he’d be visiting, not  a few handpicked schools as an honoured guest, but a good number of disaster areas as part of the frontline. If he survived the inevitable abuse, intimidation, insubordination and blame that are a part of so many schools, he’d emerge with nothing more than a desire to put a match to his own report. This is, of course, assuming that none of his colleagues had discovered who he was. After all, how many teachers  would, in the interests of natural justice, want to make sure that this particular revisionist tract was firmly inserted somewhere he wouldn’t be able to reach easily?



  1. What a wanker!

  2. It looks to me as if he wants more scare resources diverted away from the classroom and pumped into a small number of badly behaved students.
    This part of the Sir Alan’s report is nearly, and I stress nearly, right. He accepts that schools cannot cope with such behaviour. Well done. That’s not because we are hopeless, it’s because we have other things to do – like teach the mass of the populaiton who behave and want to learn. Take the thugs away and give them proper support – but don’t do it schools. Give them medical or behavioural modification treatment in places where throwing chairs, spitting, swearing, hitting biting and kicking can take place without risking the health, education and safety of the bulk of the population. Let’s face it – no matter how much help we give very disruptive kids they will not be sured over night and so will continue to disrupt lessons, damage life chances, waste resources and cause stress.
    One more thing – Keep those bloody social workers away from my classroom Sir Alan.

  3. Wouldn’t be able to find, more likely.

    with both hands.

  4. This culture is pretty much exactly why I left teaching. I haven’t looked back, but still keep up to date on how ridiculous things are becoming.

  5. Behaviour is no worse than it has ever been? WHAT?? Where the hell does he get that from? I went to a bog-standard comp. in the 70s and while yes, there were badly behaved kids, they were nothing like the little dears I’m dealing with now.

  6. Caz,

    I too went to a bog-standard comprehensive. I would agree that the behaviour then was nothing like now. However, I don’t think it’s the kids that have changed, it’s the consequences.

  7. Welcome back.

    I don’t know how these people do it. It’s like a magic show or BASE jumping. You can’t spot how it’s done nor can you see any reason why anyone would want to do it.

  8. “I don’t think it’s the kids that have changed, it’s the consequences”.

    I think that the kids *have* changed, but I would definitely say that a large part of that change is due to the lack of consequences we are able to employ.
    I’ve been thinking lately that it’s all very well having a behaviour system built on consequences, provided that the kids understand the actual concept of “if you do this, then this will happen”.
    The trouble is that many of them just don’t “get it”.

  9. I think the problem is that they do “get it”. They know that, in truth, “if you do this then probably nothing will happen”.

  10. Welcome Back! Sure missed your posts. :-)

  11. Cheers.

  12. How very mysterious, Mr Oldandrew. You will tell us when you can. Can it be that I have been electronically interacting all this time with 007? I am excited.

    Love the fire-fighting analogy. Extending the metaphor further, if that fucking tosser Steer burst into flames, I for one would decline to piss upon him even if I had just drunk eleven pints of lager and my bladder was at bursting point.

    Could you get the TES to print that blog entry? They seem to woefully under-report grassroots objections to “policy” and official pronouncements.

  13. What I don’t understand is, what does he get out of it?

    He spent 20 years as the headmaster of a easy school in East London with 90% well-behaved, aspirant, Asian pupils. But he’s retired now, they have nothing over him. What does he gain from this?

  14. Of course kids know what the consequences of bad behaviour are. Unless it’s truly awful, it’s nothing worse than a missed break period. My kids tell me this. Since about year 9, they have had a fairly accurate view of what you can do and what might happen to you. And they know that if a teacher touches a student, he/she stands a pretty good chance of loosing their job.

    In my mind, the strange and wonderful thing is that they don’t take advantage of their knowledge (much). Nor does most of the school.

  15. […] I chanced across this (Why Sir Alan Steer Should Stick his Stupid Lying Report up his Arse,) from Old Andrew’s back […]

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