I do not normally (i.e. ever) use this blog to make comments on anything political. I don’t think that it’s the right forum. My thoughts here, while not attributed to my employer, do reflect my esteem for the profession. My political thoughts are of no consequence.
However, I will write what I say to my students.
1) Any job needs to be stressful. It is what makes a job a job. A job is what you do even when you do not want to do it, just as reality is real even when you don’t believe it. Connotations are often not part of reality, though, because if you are not aware (at least even subconsciously) of a connotation, then it cannot have an effect. For example, should a child watch an advert for a certain kind of marker pen that is equated with intellectualism, they are unlikely to be influenced (beyond the fact that the advert might be attached to a recognisable public figure.)
The job of a student is to study. Their boss is, if they are self-motivated, themselves. After that, it is the person in front of them, who is equal-parts salesman and fortune teller. Work hard and you’ll get your qualifications and you’ll get a job you want. There’s a little more to that equation, as Gove recently noted, but the notion works: work hard now so you don’t have to work so hard later.
2) The work you produce in the context of school is necessarily coloured by the fact that it is school-work. It doesn’t matter what order the words are in: you are wearing a uniform (as am I) and you are writing in a school book. I read 1000s of words a week, and the vast majority of it is written at the standard expected by someone wanting to pass a GCSE. When something special is written, it is notice. But what makes writing special, I think in this epoch, is the context which the writer creates. If you believe in what you have to say enough, then broker an audience.
3) In any people profession, you will find a spectrum of personalities. Some will be stable, others will change. Not all will have the same values, and none will have the same experiences. The aims of these people should converge, and they are often logical in their thinking. But the logic they employ will rely upon perceptions that may vary wildly from yours. Yes, you can apply pop-psychology to try to understand what perceptions and values others may hold. And if you are close, you might understand why people do things that, to you, seem bizarre, absurd or even wrong. But know this – people very rarely do things that thing are wrong by their values. There is usually something else they are doing, or aiming, or following.
4) People will define you by various standards. If you draw attention to your appearance, some people will judge you on that more than anything else. Some people will judge yourself on your appearance more than anything else anyway, but means it is most likely that they judge themselves on their appearance anyway, too. Ultimately, you should be the arbiter of yourself. By the time you reach adulthood, it is hoped by society that you have recognised and fostered values that mean that this doesn’t make you a sociopath. However, there are many professions that will make you fiscally successful should you be one; happiness and purpose don’t often follow, though.
5) People who want to achieve and work hard need organisation and guidance, and acknowledgement. Reward and suspicion are imposters both: to those who want to achieve, they are best accepted when the experienced professional feels they are deserved. For those who care less, no amount of making certain attitudes mandatory will raise its quality.
I think that there will never be an educational secretary or a Head of OFSTED who will be liked. It is the nature of the posts. I also think that some of the sense they might talk will be swallowed up in the soundbites that savage noble intentions. Even with these concessions, though, the rules of playground manifest themselves in any walk of life: it is good to learn them when you’re young.