Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Gove apologises to French teacher

Education Secretary Michael Gove has issued an apology to his former French teacher

It may be 30 years too late, but Michael Gove has issued a heartfelt apology to his former French teacher for misbehaving in class.

In an open letter, the Education Secretary said he cringes when he remembers his 15-year-old self, lurking at the back of the classroom, competing to ask "clever-dick questions" and indulging in "pathetic showing off".

He urges Mr Montgomery, to whom he refers as Danny, to accept his tardy apology, since apologies from politicians are "as rare as away wins for Queens Park Rangers".

Mr Gove, who is a QPR fan, said he now realises that Mr Montgomery, who schooled the minister in languages at Robert Gordon's College in Aberdeen, was trying to broaden his pupils' horizons.

The letter, published in the Radio Times, says: "It may be too late to say I'm sorry. Thirty years too late. But since apologies from politicians are considered as rare as away wins for Queen's Park Rangers, I hope you will accept mine. Because when I look back at the 15-year-old I was, lurking at the back of your French class at Robert Gordon's College in Aberdeen, I cringe.

"You were trying, patiently, doggedly, good-humouredly, to broaden our horizons. You were, without any pretension or pomposity, attempting to coax a group of hormonal lads to look beyond familiar horizons and venture further.

"You weren't just dinning irregular verbs into our heads, you were opening up a different way of seeing. And all we could do was compete to think of clever-dick questions to embarrass you and indulge in pathetic showing-off at your expense."

Mr Gove writes that his former teacher was "unaffectedly passionate" about both French and German. But he was confronted with a "cocksure crew of precociously assertive boys who recognised you were only a few years older - a rookie in the classroom - and therefore ripe for ragging".

Mr Montgomery said he was "intrigued" to read his former pupil's letter. He said that even during his schooldays, the Education Secretary stood out, and was earmarked for a career in politics. "I remember the words of one of my colleagues at the time: 'That boy is a future leader of the Conservative Party'.

"This raised a few eyebrows in the staff room but also more than a few nods of agreement from one or two of my more experienced colleagues. He was already known for his sharp wit, strongly held beliefs backed by apparently limitless general knowledge and keen debating skills, which resulted in the downfall of many opponents."

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