From Downing Street Vision to Classroom Reality
A fascinating and timely 'reality check' for one of Tony Blair's closest advisors.
I believe in the power of politics to change people's lives. But is politics working?
Peter Hyman, Tony Blair's chief speechwriter and one of his closest advisors - the man responsible for branding our inner-city schools as 'bog-standard' - decides, after six years at Number 10, to test his belief in politics and New Labour.
Swapping the corridors of power for the corridors of a tough London comprehensive, he moves from a life of political strategy, polling, media relations and endless meetings to a world of twelve thousand teenagers, exam pressure, ethnic diversity and deprivation. Thrown in at the deep end, he has to cope with a child trying to escape out of a sixth-floor window, a detention room full of disruptive children and a staff room of teachers hostile to many of New Labour's reforms.
Contrasting the political world of big decisions that affect millions, and the small daily judgements that shape the chances of our children, this is an insider's account of leadership - a Prime Minister and a Head Teacher. What makes someone want that kind of responsibility? And what makes them good at it. It is also an exploration of change. Whether it's a political party, a school, an individual or the country.
It is often said that politicians and their advisors have no idea what the 'real world' is like; how the policies they put in place impact on the lives of 'normal' people. After Peter Hyman's jolt of reality, both his view of politics and his own personal choices in life have been surprisingly reshaped.