Chris Woodhead

Finally, another Woodhead headline, which we all knew was coming. Having fought motor neurone disease with the defiant, individualist ferocity he brought to his other battles, Chris Woodhead has died. I briefly knew him, went out for drinks occasionally, when we were both much younger. And then as he rose in prominence, he became an intellectual enemy, potent figurehead of a campaign to slander teachers and distort the nature of education. Nobody now wants to know the details of all that, but he was an early rare example of a phenomenon we shan't see often, the celebrity inspector, and he encouraged people to believe in crude solutions to complex problems. I can't see a positive legacy in shining example, thoughtful publications or actual progress in schools, but he certainly knew how to woo the media. And on top of that there's the whole business of "the affair", which was important because it become the centre of a political campaign to protect his position and muzzle the press, but that's another, much longer story (which, as it happens, you can follow elsewhere on this website).