'I left school with basically nothing, I was a special needs kid. I did feel as though my school had let me down," says Jamie Oliver at the beginning of his new crusading series, Jamie's Dream School. Today, Oliver is a multimillionaire chef and social campaigner, yet he left his Essex secondary school with two GCSEs. Which is why he feels empathy for the 47% of young people in Britain who are leaving school at 16 with fewer than five GCSEs at grade A*-C, including the critical subjects of English and maths...And here's the part that gained a lot of attention in his interview:
Is that what you look for when recruiting staff for your restaurants?You tell them, Jamie. We certainly don't want the UK to have Krugmanite wusses up and down this fair land, now do we?
I am an employer of 350 chefs, and when it comes to the 16- to 20-year-olds we see at the moment, I've never experienced such a wet generation. I'm embarrassed to look at British kids. You get their mummies phoning up and saying: "He's too tired, you're working him too hard" – even the butch ones. Meanwhile, I've got bulletproof, rock-solid Polish and Lithuanians who are tough and work hard. Physical graft and grunt is something this generation is struggling with.
Education secretary Michael Gove is backing the idea of hiring teachers who don't have the usual teaching qualifications, which is what you're doing with Dream School…
I think Dream School is questioning everything about schools that we know, including whether you need traditional qualifications to be a teacher – I think we both know that's a no. Govey could be on to something quite profound there.