WITH the soon-to-be-leaving Headmaster overseeing the School until a new headteacher can be appointed, it was a perfect opportunity for the five contenders drawn from the existing staff to be asked a few questions about their plans ‘going forward’.
Popular old boy and TV presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy, best known for his current affairs programme Impartial,was on hand as moderator to pose the questions. Parents, teachers and some senior boys witnessed a lively, thoughtful and, it must be said, occasionally acrimonious debate, held in the sports hall, between five talented individuals, each having a strong claim to the top job.
Mr Guru-Murthy started by asking the question: ‘What can you offer the school’?
Penny Mordaunt, Assistant Drama Coach:
‘That’s an easy one to answer. I have a wealth of relevant experience in all aspects of the running of the school. I will courageously speak truth to power and, if needed, power to truth. I am popular with staff, pupils and parents. My staging of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert was a huge success, and given the chance I would put drama very much centre stage for the school. I have an acknowledged eye for details and an unrivalled capacity for hard work.’
At this point there was what sounded like a loud chortle from Mr Frost, one of the Governors, but he was merely clearing his throat.
Tom Tugendhat, Regimental Sergeant Major, Combined Cadet Force:
‘I don’t know if any of you are aware that I served in the Army, but in my opinion the school needs a new direction, it needs someone untainted by association with the ancien regime, someone who can deliver on promises, take the pupils on a journey, level up and build on fairness.’
Liz Truss, Head of Geography:
‘Quite simply, there is no one here on this stage who can match my achievements as far as teaching expertise is concerned. However, it was the recent rise in school fees that led me to the conclusion that the Headmaster had totally “lost the plot”. I have the utmost respect for all my colleagues on the podium tonight and if elected, I would draw on all the talents here, and would have no hesitation, for instance, in putting Mr Sunak in charge of stationery. That for me represents the best way forward for the Academy: colleagues working together to a common purpose.’
Kemi Badenoch, Head of Engineering Studies:
‘I think it is widely known that the school has performed badly against any reasonable measure. If we look at exam tables, we are regrettably well down the list. Unfortunately, and I hate to say this, the teachers themselves are primarily responsible for this situation and have a lot to answer for. Fashionable causes are all well and good, but the simple fact is, that we need to get back to basics, back to the fundamental values and traditions that underpinned the founding of the school.’
(Simultaneously the other four candidates yawned ostentatiously and rolled their eyes.)
Rishi Sunak, Head of Economics:
‘I am thrilled to be here this evening and thank you for giving me the chance to outline my vision going forward. Look, we have hard choices to make. There is no escaping the fact that the finances of the school are in a terrible way. I am an honest person and will always level with the parents and staff; it is pointless glossing over problems and pretending that money doesn’t matter, because it does. Liz’s suggestion of free Kit Kats for pupils on the assisted places scheme highlights not only her total fiscal ineptitude but her lack of care for the boys’ health.
‘Yes, there will be tough decisions to take, yes, there will be a degree of pain to endure, but if elected I will promise faithfully to govern in a holistic way. I want the school to be a beacon of diversity and opportunity – a meritocracy, if you will, a school at ease with itself. There will be no more over-promising and under-delivering, no more dissembling. I will walk the walk.’
On a lighter note, and to get a glimpse of the candidates’ personalities, Mr Guru-Murthy asked them about their favourite films.
Mordaunt: ‘I was a huge fan of Orson Welles, so for me it has to his 1973 classic F for Fake.’
Badenoch: ‘Difficult, but I would have to plump for David Lean’s This Happy Breed.’
Tugendhat: ‘Having served in the Army, it has to be A Bridge Too Far.’
Truss: ‘Can I have two please? Baltic Storm or a lovely 2013 comedy drama that I can watch over and over, The Geography Club.’
Sunak: ‘Well, if Liz is allowed two then I think I should be as well! The Nutty Professor reminds me of the flu outbreak we had at the school a couple of years ago, but when Akshata is able to spend some time in the UK we like nothing better than to settle down with a large bag of popcorn and put on our favourite romcom, the 1993 Green Card with Gérard Depardieu.’
The candidates were treated to a sitting ovation and jazz hands.