Here's a fun fact for education activists in the UK, US, Mexico and elsewhere who are organising test boycotts. Sir Michael Barber, chief education consultant for Pearson, wrote the resolution which kicked off the first successful boycott in the UK. At the time he was working for the National Union of Teachers.

His mind was on higher things however, picking up tips for government as he went, he joined Tony Blair as an adviser, to help him 'deliver' on first education 'reform' and then the reform of just about everything, using his own invention, the 'science of deliverology'.

All of this is set out in his latest book, How to run a government, which I have read so that you don't have to. He recommends it to political leaders everywhere, with the exception of 'blatant autocrats'. He then goes on to namecheck all sorts of autocrats who he has advised. The Presidents of Malaysia, Chile and Columbia are some of those who have had face time with him. 58 countries have set up 'delivery units', including Kuwait and Sierra Leone and even the World Bank itself.

His methods are simple. Taking a journalist's description of his presentation style as 'comparable to a lecture from the speaking clock' as a compliment, for him the answer is data, data and more data – accountability for teachers and other public servants and above all, no 'trust and altruism' – a method used in Finland but according to him, not to be tried elsewhere. Because in most countries teachers are not 'knights'* but 'knaves' – vested interests who teach for their own benefit and not for the 'consumers'. He airily dismisses whole countries full of teachers. Ghana's teachers are paid well (!), their government is 'paying knights and getting knaves.' In India 'a quarter of teachers are not turning up on any given day.'

The other big idea is privatisation. Quoting a character from the play Main Street – 'And you want to reform people like that when dynamite is so cheap?', he has conquered all his own younger qualms about privatising public services because 'on the whole history has endorsed the case for privatisation.'

Except to marvel at the arrogance and pomposity of a man whose deadening effect on teachers and education is still being felt in the first country he had to play with and is now spreading throughout the world, this is a book which only a masochist would read to the end. However, there is one very useful piece of advice for those of us with a different use for education than the production of 'human capital.' Describing his feelings as he was waiting for the implementation of a particularly patronising 'reform' measure in England. He asks:

'Would there be a boycott? Would there be demonstrations? Or worse still, what if in spite of all the training that has already taken place, the primary teachers of England just carried on doing what they had always done? What would government do then? How powerless would I be? To be ignored, surely a worse fate than to be resisted.'

The power is in our hands, teachers and parents of the world – boycott, refuse, ignore, resist and watch the speaking clocks and cash registers of Pearson and their ilk fall silent.

* Knights - like himself of course - thanks for that insight!