PM Boris Johnson went back to school decades after leaving, this time not to learn, but rather to share his own wisdom, cheekily schooling pupils at Pimlico Primary School in southwest London that getting drunk while at university hardly pays off in the long run. He hurried to illustrate the ethos with his own example:
"My strong advice is don't waste your time at university”, he started off, further explaining:
"Don't get drunk. I frittered too much time at university I'm afraid to say".
However, the Oxford graduate then boastfully referred to his excellent qualification:
"I did nothing except Latin and Greek for about 20 years and now I'm running the country. It's a perfect education".
Since the experience exchange with the eight-year-olds occurred in a history class, questions on history and art also came into the picture. When the sit-down centred on the Bayeux Tapestry, with the teacher, wondering who commissioned the artefact, Johnson stepped in to provide an answer:
"It's actually hotly contested. The French say it was made in Bayeux but I think we claim that it's a masterpiece of Anglo-Saxon needlework”, the prime minister noted, also leaving space for humour:
"But Macron says he's going to lend it to us, President Emmanuel Macron", he dropped tongue-in-cheek.
The visit to the primary school came the day that Parliament was prorogued until mid-October amid a Brexit deal dead-end, as part of the British prime minister’s free school project. The latter envisions the creation of new state schools free of local council control – an indispensable part of the Tories’ education programme. Free schools are set up under the personal initiative of groups of teachers, parents, or charities and businesses and cater to their interests while being funded directly by the government, exercising freedom to pick their own curricula and employee salaries.
The school debate has gained exceptional prominence since last month, the Local Government Association cautioned of a “looming crisis” in the number of school places, warning of a coming secondary school shortfall in the next school year.
Lobbying for the free school initiative, Johnson inferred during the Pimlico visit:
"Free schools help to ensure children are getting the best education possible – offering exceptional teaching, encouraging strong discipline and providing families with more choices”.
He lauded the “excellent” schools of the kind, praising the “good and outstanding school places” that the institutions are expected to offer.