I expect many of you watched the recent television play, Ahead of the Class, about the late Philip Lawrence's school, starring Julie Walters as Dame Marie Stubbs.
Actually, what fascinated me was not so much the play itself but Dame Marie's views on education. What a breath of fresh air!
Her views on what schools are really for were a real smack in the eye for all those dismal Johnnies who think it is the role of schools to echo the hopelessness, the problems, the misery of life for so many children outside the classroom.
How many headteachers, I wonder, bleat about the fact that poor, violent, illdisciplined schools are merely reflecting a society full of violence, sexual excess and drugtaking, using this as an excuse for their own underachievement?
Dame Marie doesn't see it this way at all, she knows that it is primarily the headteacher who sets the ethos and the norms for a school.
Her message is: "You can have the school that you want if you are willing to fight for it and even be unpopular if necessary."
How many teachers will only read books in class about children because "kids can only relate to other kids", as if they are going to be children for ever, and are all beset by intractable and horrifying problems? Thus, lessons in English and Personal and Social Education are filled with drug-taking, teenage pregnancy, domestic violence and the like.
It's all dysfunctional families and social problems; a diet enough to depress the most sunny-natured Pollyanna, let alone vulnerable children who come to school to escape homes where hope and comfort are rare commodities.
To Marie Stubbs, on the other hand, school should be an oasis away from problems, not a constant reminder of them.
She saw that those who needed help were offered it but she was adamant that school should be "an alternative universe with its own mores, it own ways of relating and doing".
Instead of children bringing bad habits and unacceptable behaviour to school, along with the low self-esteem engendered by their depressing backgrounds, Marie Stubbs offered them "a magic kingdom where you will learn and work and behave".
In other words, school doesn't have to be like home, it can be an antidote to home.
This is a robust contradiction of the trendy ideas of modern educationalists that children must be "confirmed in their culture," however deprived and culturally bankrupt this culture may be.
To Dame Marie, as to me, it is wrong to patronise deprived children by having low expectations of them, allowing them to produce low-grade work because, the implication is, they are capable of nothing better.
Thus they are offered as role models nothing better than talentless pop-stars, encouraged to dress like their favourite popstars, and offered as the ultimate goal in life the chance to be a part of a boy-band.
If I'd been to one of these schools with the attitude of "anything's all right for the plebs, they're never going to amount to much anyway", I suppose I'd have been cleaning floors in a pub like my mother, or working in a factory like my father.
Thank heavens for Dame Marie, who asserts that 'it ain't necessarily so'.