Senior leaders are curious creatures. In fact, I suspect they're all the ambitious, brainwashed progeny of a Queen Educator residing in some collective hive in Hampstead. In between her daily dose of Guardianista propaganda, Queenie, no doubt, seduces some bloke who looks a bit like Robin Cook, bears his ginger-bearded, gnome-like clones, and raises them to be rabidly committed to a mishmash of ideologically incoherent principles and an arbitrary combination of contradictory actions. They invariably claim to be champions of equality, for example, whilst embracing cultural and moral relativism; self-indulgently declare a cast-iron commitment to human rights whilst allowing pupils and staff to be threatened and abused; and, dare I forget, proclaim their unimpeachable moral authority whilst engaging in the unethical manipulation of school data, often at the expense of the children they claim to love. In short, and in my humble experience, many are self-serving, narcissistic hypocrites.
Big Brenda is one such leader. Putting to one side her well publicised, Thatcher-hating credentials for one moment, she is physically large, very large, hence the rather unoriginal sobriquet Big Brenda. She is inexplicably and perpetually red-faced, especially in the winter, and covered, from cheek to jowl, in wispy white hair that looks suspiciously like she's been stuffing her chops with candy floss.
Some less respectful colleagues refer to her as the indomitable Terry Waite, aka The Bear at the Fair, courtesy of her size and flossy beard. She is indeed an imposing, redoubtable-looking woman, taciturn and unflappable in equal measure.
I first met her at the beginning of a CPD event, a mere two days into my fledgling career. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the term - one of many oblique acronyms in educational nomenclature - CPD stands for Continued Professional Development. As a weekly event on the school calendar, it is designed to facilitate, as its title suggests, teacher improvement and professional growth. In reality, though, it is used as an opportunity to indoctrinate teachers with commie-inspired agitprop and popular Left-wing prejudices, one being the blind promotion of state-sponsored multiculturalism.
As one of the educational establishment's foot-soldiers, Brenda is a keen propagator of these prejudices. She inaugurated the school's annual multicultural festival, does everything but kiss the feet of our black African colleagues and, in contrast, as if to demonstrate her unimpeachable pro-Mandela, anti-apartheid credentials, treats their white African counterparts with appalling contempt, as though they were collectively responsible for the atrocity. On one occasion, she rebuked a white Zimbabwean for being difficult to understand - a criticism she would never have made had the guy been black.
Anyway, I digress. My first CPD session entailed, and I'm not joking, the Brenda-decreed practice of learning to pronounce black African names (Boer names were not included, despite the fact that we worked with several Afrikaners). Honestly! I'm not kidding you. For forty-five minutes we sat, mouths contorted, tongues doing acrobatics, listening and unsuccessfully attempting to replicate the sounds emanating from a native speaking African colleague. Look, before you all shout 'Racist!', I'm not against trying one's best to pronounce a person's name accurately. The said colleague was indeed a lovely man and, furthermore, later became a good friend. But spending an entire CPD session on it? Come on! How can that possibly help satisfy my developmental needs?! In fact, he can't even pronounce my bloody name correctly. Perhaps we should waste an hour on rectifying that.
But jokes aside, my first experience of Big Brenda was indicative. She was, and still remains, a quintessential senior leader. Born and raised in Queenie's hive in Hampstead, she may not look like Robin Cook, but she continues to enforce his party's cultural agenda.