Coffee House

Michael Gove: My debt to Jade Goody and the future of school reform

6 February 2013

11:44 AM

6 February 2013

11:44 AM

In shaping education policy I have been influenced by many people… But two particular individuals have influenced me more than any others. The Italian Marxist thinker – and father of Euro-Communism – Antonio Gramsci. And the reality television star Jade Goody.

Let me explain my admiration for Jade first.

When she first appeared on our screens in Big Brother Jade was regarded as paragon of invincible ignorance. She was derided and mocked because she thought that Cambridge was in London. On being told that Cambridge is in East Anglia, she assumed that to be abroad, and referred to it as ‘East Angular’. Her other misconceptions included the belief that Rio de Janeiro was a person and not a city.

It seemed to me at the time, and seems to me now, a sort of double cruelty to have mocked Jade for these errors. Deriving entertainment from another’s misfortunes is wrong in itself. But in any case, her lack of knowledge was not her fault but the education system’s.

Because there was no doubt that Jade was intelligent. She exploited the notoriety she had earned to make herself a ubiquitous television and magazine presence, earning huge sums in the process and becoming in due course far wealthier than most of her detractors.

And Jade’s wisdom did not extend merely to making money. She also knew what mattered more than simply material wealth. At a tragically early age Jade was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Terminally ill, she had to make plans for her two beloved boys. So she husbanded her earnings for them. She might have been tempted to set up a trust fund for them so that when they reached adulthood they could have enjoyed themselves royally. But instead she used her money to send them to the most traditional, academically demanding prep school she could find. So they could enjoy the best education reality TV could buy.

Because Jade knew that the most precious thing she could bequeath her children was not money but knowledge and the best guarantee of their future happiness was not the power to indulge whims with cash but the power to choose your own future through education.


Jade’s ambitions for her children – academic success – were admirable. But they are not unusual. Far from it.

Why are the Harris academies in Peckham and Bermondsey so massively over-subscribed? Why do so many parents in the poorest parts of Birmingham want to send their children to the Perry Beeches Free School? Why are the Tauheedul Girls and Boys schools in Blackburn so popular?

Because parents – especially poorer parents – want their children to get up and get on. And that means acquiring a proper rounded rigorous education. In the hope that they can choose to go to university.

In the recent Millennium Cohort Study, 97% of professional parents and 96% of mothers who identified themselves as working class said they hoped their child would go on to university. The overwhelming majority of parents know academic excellence when they see it, and want it for their children. The idea that there is a significant number of parents who lack ambition for their children, who are not aspirational, who scorn book learning and are hostile to academic excellence is just not true.

So what is holding children back? Well, for an analysis of those forces which do stand in the way of liberating young people from the chains of ignorance, I would recommend close attention to the work of Gramsci.

Antonio Gramsci was a powerful critic of the power structures of his time which entrenched the dominance of traditional elites in Italian life. And one of the greatest concerns he had was that one – increasingly fashionable – ideology which was being sold in Twenties and Thirties Italy as progressive – would only end up reinforcing the inequalities and injustices he hated.

The ideology he so feared in inter-war Italy was what we have come to call – with tragic inappropriateness – progressive education. Progressive educational theory stressed the importance of children following their own instincts, rather than being taught. It sought to replace an emphasis on acquiring knowledge in traditional subjects with a new stress on children following where their curiosity led them. And that was usually away from outdated practices such as reading, writing and arithmetic.

This approach was deemed democratic – because it replaced the rigid formality of the traditional schoolroom with the teacher as authority figure and placed everyone in the classroom – teacher and child – on the same footing as co-creators of learning.

It was called progressive because it moved away from a set hierarchy of knowledge – literary canons, mathematical proofs, scientific laws, musical exercises and artistic traditions – towards a new emphasis on ‘learning to learn’. And one did not need to study a subject discipline to acquire these abstract skills.

Progressive educational theory had its roots in the teachings of Rousseau and other Romantics, and their belief that man was naturally good and corrupted by civilisation – and became the dominant world view of many of the institutions of the educational establishment during the last century. It even recommended itself to Mussolini’s education minister Giovanni Gentile.

But Gramsci saw that – far from being progressive or democratic – this new approach to education risked depriving the working classes of the tools they needed to emancipate themselves from ignorance. As he wrote, ‘The new concept of schooling is in its romantic phase, in which the replacement of “mechanical” by “natural” methods has become unhealthily exaggerated….previously pupils at least acquired a certain baggage of concrete facts. Now there will no longer be any baggage to put in order…the most paradoxical aspect of it all is that this new type of school is advocated as being democratic, while in fact it is destined not merely to perpetuate social differences but crystallise them in Chinese complexity.’

Destined not merely to perpetuate social differences but to crystallise them. He could have been describing what has happened in Britain in the last forty years. The nation which invented the concept of meritocracy, where the idea of the career open to talent had propelled social and economic progress has seen social mobility stall. And then move backwards. Wherever you look – Cabinets or Shadow Cabinets – newspaper editorial conferences or FTSE 100 boardrooms – the nation’s galleries or bishop’s palaces – the positions of power and influence are overwhelmingly held by the privately-educated or the children of middle class professionals. The social differences which existed in our society before the Nineteen-Sixties have – in all too many cases – not just been perpetuated but crystallised.

This is an extract from Michael Gove’s speech to the Social Market Foundation, which you can read in full here.

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Show comments
  • Dr. Mike Diboll

    It’s odd that Gove’s aping of the intellectual is so often taken at face value. I’ll ignore his comments on Jade Goody, and focus instead of his highly selective, decontextualised and distorting misuse of Gramsci’s short essay ‘On Education’, which appears in his ‘Prison Notebooks’.

    First off, the ‘ideology [Gramsci] so feared in inter-war Italy’ was not ‘progressive education’, but Fascism: it was Fascism that left Gramsci to rot in jail and suffer a premature death under Mussolini’s Emergency Laws, not ‘progressive education’.

    Gramsci was a critic of the Rousseauesque tradition in education, but was not hostile to it on fundamental grounds, whatever Gove might try to have us believe. Grasci’s aim in ‘On Education’ was to expose the largely rhetorical and presentation facade of ‘reform’ in Fascist Italy, not to critique reform of education per se, writing:

    ‘The active school [i.e. Gove’s ‘progressive education’] is still in its Romantic phase, in which the elements of the struggle against the Jesuitical school [‘traditional education’] have become unhealthily exaggerated.’

    Gramsci’s defence of the rigour of traditional curricula and his emphasis on education as ‘work’ was not, as Gove would have it, a defence of an education system that was old-fashioned and reactionary in the 1920s (never mind the 2010s!) — after all, Gramsci’s ultimate goal was an education system that would produce revolutionary working-class ‘organic intellectuals’ who would form the intellectual and cultural vanguard of the struggle to overthrow capitalism, hardly, I venture, Michael Gove’s aim.

    Rather, Gramsci’s concern was to ensure that the academic rigour of the best of traditional education survived the transition to a more ‘active’ approach to education, specifically, the superficial and ‘Romantic’ Fascist co-option of education reform. Gramsci wanted to save the baby, but was fully behind the disposal of the bathwater.

    Last year Gove spent 370,000 GBP sending copies of the King James Bible to every school in the UK on the occasion of that translation’s 400th anniversary, each copy inscribed ‘Presented by the Secretary of State for Education’. I wonder what Gove would have made of Gramsci’s comment in his essay ‘On Intellectuals and Cultural Organisations’:

    ‘[Fascist Education Minister] Gentile’s thinking is nothing more than the extension of the idea that “religion is good for the people” (people = child = primitive phase of thought to which religion corresponds), i.e. a tendentious abandonment of of the aim of educating the people … Gentile’s historicism is of a very degenerate kind: it is the historicism of those jurists for whom a knout is not a knout so long as it is a “historical” knout. Moreover, his ideas are very vague and confused.’

    While I don’t quite subscribe to Gramsci’s views on religion, I see more than a little of Gove’s ‘Kings ‘n’ Queens’ and ‘Great Britons’ approach to history in Gramsci’s critique of the Fascist Education Minister.

  • Lyra

    The fact that he has pointed to a reality-television personality also underlines one of the major ills of our time. Goody was a victim of the modern obsession with instant fame and wealth. He failed to recognise that while she turned it to her advantage the mere method she accrued such notoriety reflects the hollow dimension that is filling our young people with empty dreams- we are creating empty vessels.
    School age citizens are being bombarded with shallow literature that is encouraging them, girls in particular, to aspire to the likes of Goody, Katie Price and models on page 3. and so on. Schools do not need to encourage disparity- they need to have a universal goal: to ensure we guide our young in all aspects of life.
    Gove was lucky enough to be adopted by a wealthy family, therefore he can draw on his experience as positive- look where he stands today- yet, his life could have been so different.
    Rather than identifying one ‘success’ story to have come out of Bermondsey- he should pursue the makings of an education system that is fair, equal and allows every citizen a foundation in life. Admiring Goody’s academic hopes for her sons is fine, but not everyone will be a Goody and have this opportunity.
    Give impresses on me not the need for privilege but the need for equality. Britain is a cesspit of snobbery- age-old and relentless- and he is one of the members of a pack, impenetrable with high walls to match. If he wants to ‘improve’ this country he needs to go further than changing to function of a few exams. Our education provide the footsteps to the rest of our lives. If education fails us, we fail society. Failing schools are rife in areas of economic deprivation. Referencing a working class girl who sent her children to a prep school is a weak and clichéd argument.

  • Teacher

    Gove’s real problem is that he is trying to change a system by dealing with the promotees of that very system.

    Another difficulty is that even if he does manage to educate the children of the poor there are no jobs for them at the end of their (very expensive) education.

  • Druth

    Our one party LibLabCon political elite all send their kids to public school, because that’s how you become part of the elite. Labour have its witchfinder generals so busy running around shouting racist and homophobe at anyone who disagrees with them that they don’t actually notice that the party is actually run by toffs wearing red rosettes. Contrast how many Labour MP’s have been to Oxbridge with those that have have worked down a mine or for the minimum wage?

  • modeluprightcitizen

    I wonder whether Gove’s decision to abandon the new exam system was influenced by Jade Goody or Antonio Gramsci?

  • Chatterclass

    ‘mathematical proofs, scientific laws, musical exercises and artistic traditions …’ all commendable, but why has Gove excluded art and music from the core subjects at both EBacc and A level? Why is his actual approach so dry and utilitarian? A rounded education, as provided in the private sector bursts with cultural enrichment. Surely his thesis should aspire to such for all children.

  • Charles Hedges

    Gramsci told other truths about markets, and about Fascists, which you could learn from.

  • David Lindsay

    Jade Goody, I can believe. But Michael Gove has been influenced by Antonio Gramsci?

    The thing about Gramsci is that we have never really needed him Britain. The insistence on the unity of theory and practice, the rejection of economic determinism and of metaphysical materialism, the celebration of the “national-popular”, the call for an organic working-class culture and self-organisation including worker-intellectuals: we already had them all.

    At least, we did have them. Until Gove’s political heroine, whom no one has ever accused of being either a worker or an intellectual, came along and destroyed their economic base. As Education Secretary, she closed so many grammar schools that there were not enough left for her record ever to be equalled. As Prime Minister, she replaced O-levels with GCSEs.

    But there remained heirs to the organic worker-intellectual tradition, often very left-wing people indeed, who tried as best they could to maintain in their own classrooms, until they themselves retired, whatever they could of the best that had been known and thought, in the midst of her enforcement upon everyone else of her own utter philistinism and her total lack of even the slightest intellectual curiosity. Truly, her natural successor was Tony Blair. And truly, contrary to what has often been asserted in the absence of the slightest evidence, his natural successors are David Cameron and George Osborne.

    There had been some grounds for hoping that Michael Gove was different. But he is clearly oblivious to these facts. He knows nothing of the trade union, co-operative and mutual, Radical Liberal, Tory populist, Guild Socialist, Christian Socialist, Social Catholic and Distributist, and many other roots of the British, Irish and Commonwealth Labour Movements, predating Marx and long predating Gramsci.

    He knows nothing of their roots, which are in the anti-Whig subcultures disaffected by the events of 1688, subcultures predating any Counterrevolutionary movement on the Continent because predationg any Revolution there or in North America, and emphasising the indispensable role of the State in protecting against the market everything that conservatives seek to conserve, while offering perennial critiques of individualism, capitalism, imperialism, militarism, bourgeois triumphalism, and the fallacy of inevitable historical progress. As an ardent neoconservative, Gove is fully signed up to all of those.

    Does he even, as we had been led to imagine, know anything of their roots, which are in Early Modernity and the Middle Ages, in Classics and the Bible? Or is the entirety of this Government exactly as it would appear to be: intellectually unequipped to be the Government of the United Kingdom, or, at root, to be the Government of any other country
    on earth?

  • MikeF

    I always rather liked Jade Goody as well. What she lacked in formal knowledge and academic rigour she made up for to an extent by a certain instinctive ability to divine the reality of other people’s motivations. I think she knew that the people who mocked her did so in part to deflect attention from the fact that she was to a large extent formed by the ‘progressive’ educational policies they might have once espoused – for other people’s children, not their own. Or as she put it herself in her own inimitable manner: “I’m just an escape goat.”

    • Eddie

      ‘formal knowledge’?

      As opposed to what exactly? Knowledge of kebabs? Or popodoms?

      Wasn’t Goody being branded an awful racist by the pc mob – before she got cancer, that is. Has she now been forgiven and rehabilitated then? How very soviet…

      • MikeF

        Hello Eddie, Oh who knows but she might have spelt ‘poppadom’ correctly. I was struck by the way she planned her own funeral – starting in Bermondsey, ending in Essex – as a sort of recreation of and celebration of the trajectory of her life. She made something of herself with the aid of what resources she had. That’s not bad going. Keep up the missives. I think the PC edifice is beginning to crumble. One day we will bring it down.

        • Eddie

          I really do not care how poppadum is spelt – because it’s a foreign word and thus has flexible spelling in English. So my spelling is valid. I have seen the word spelt 10 different ways in restaurants – it’s transliterated from the Hindi/Urdu, as so many food words are.
          I don’t think Goody could read or write, let alone spell. And if you judge someone’s intelligence by how they spell a word like that, then you’re as thick as a week-old curry, gan-chud.
          Jade Goody exploited her death financially for her kids’ sake – it was vile, frankly, and in extremely bad taste. But in our culture, so many people have no class or culture and thus think that kind of display is admirable. Her whole celebrity was predicate on the fact that others as uneducated and ignorant (and yes poor and disadvantaged) as her could become rich and famous. They could watch her on TV and dream of being her. Goody was also particularly ugly as well as dim: she was made for reality TV. But there is nothing to admire there.

          • MikeF

            Indeed Eddie – the word is spelt all sorts of ways. Unfortunately these days so are a lot of other words. We seem to be returning to the time before the mid-17th Century or so when there was no standardised spelling. As for Goody – she played the system and did well for her kids out of it. She wasn’t malign and as far as I can tell she did nobody else any harm. As for poppadoms the important thing is how they are cooked – dry and crisp, not greasy and chewy – my local Indian restourant, actually run by Bangladeshis, does them to perfection. That ‘s the sort of multiculturalism I can get on with.

            • Eddie

              Words for food transliterated from Urdu or other languages vary in spelling: e.g. nan bread, nam bread, nun bread.
              Have you never been to these restaurants, man?
              My point is not a please for any free spelling system – but some words, often food words direct from foreign tongues, have variant spelling. For example, caviar(e).
              I spelt the word phonetically in my first post (and is it really an issue in an online forum to do that?), and spelt it traditionally in my second post.
              Poppadum is apparently the original spelling (as in Moslem); your version ‘poppadom’ came later.
              the vast majority of Indian restaurants are run by Bangladeshis, and how these establishments spell nan or poppadum depends on their regional pronunciation, I presume.

  • Smithersjones2013

    He could have been describing what has happened in Britain in the last forty years.

    Ah Gove just about the only reason I might consider voting Conservative
    again. Interesting and pertinent piece. it so nice to get away from the dumbed down sound bite sloganeering of the ‘Big Society’ and the ‘Global Race’

  • Michael990

    You are a sensible chap, Mr Gove. Keep up the good work.

  • Daniel Maris

    Excellent article.

    I have always thought of Jane Goody as a marvellous example of self-improvement – when you look at her…well her close relations I will say.

    And it is good to know that unlike many here, he doesn’t reject the idea of Marxism as a powerful incentive to self-improvement in the past – whatever it might be now.

    It shows once again that Gove is one of the few sentient beings in the Cabinet.

    • Wilhelm


      Oh dear.

    • Eddie

      I wouldn’t say that. She just won the lottery – as boxers, footballers (and their wives), models did before her.
      Only one in thousands of such people can improve themselves via becoming celebrity – and people like Jade Goody (and our dumb TV celebrity culture) makes kids think they can all get rich and famous that way.
      Their time would be better spent learning how to read and write and count really, and to accept that, like Polish immigrants (who have no trouble finding jobs in areas where most local youngsters are unemployed), they just have to work hard in jobs that reflect their ability.
      Their chances are not helped by a bad attitude which seems to inflect so many inner city yoof, who think they purpose of universe is the constant awarding of ‘rispek’ to them – for doing or achieving nothing of note at all. This ‘respect’ is demanded with menaces, of course. How sweet.

  • eyebeams

    Re: Gramsci and the antecedents for all of Gove’s adviser’s “retreads” you may care to look at the correspondence on Gramsci in the Harvard Educational Review especially Buras’ letter kind of says it all really.

  • NiceTeaParty

    The Govemeister

    Mixing Gramsci and Goody. Fantastic.

    Fantastic piece of journalism.

    Pity about the day job.

    Not that he’s short of a few ideas

    But because he’s failed to sell those ideas.

    To the teachers who fear him and the parents who fret about their child being refused entrance to their first choice. To those who only see delivery failure left, right and centre.

    Pity he doesn’t want to be Education Secretary and prefers to devolve the messy and tricky business of transforming our schools to those who do not share his aims.

    Or his love of a good idea.

    • spofforth

      He’s not selling the ideas: he’s in a state of ideological war with a profession that’s not interested in any new ideas (isn’t it funny how the Left is now the bastion of conservatism, refusing to brook any change).

  • Troika21

    An absolutely right and succinct analysis.

    Having a hierarchy of knowledge acts as a go-this-way for people who want to better themselves.

  • Eddie

    I like Gove, but get rather weary at the ‘mulitple intelligences’ fashionable theories.
    No, I don’t think Jade was intelligent – not in any way I recognise. She took an opportunity to make money because she became famous for being startlingly ignorant. That is not the same as ‘intelligence’. Unless you define ‘intelligence’ in the Howard Gardner way which I utterly reject. Jade had ability and she was savvy – but she was not intelligent.
    But then, my view is not touchy-feely trendy, and when I was a college teacher I was often a minority of one as my fellow teachers parroted the VAK learning styles differentiation piffle they had swallowed whole on their PGCEs – they were all worshipping a gospel of non-selection really too, and I seemed radical by being in favour of selection – and at a young age too. (interestingly, in France and many other European countries, I wouldn’t have stood out for having this traditionalist view, and I applaud Gove’s efforts to bring it back).
    I agree fully that we need a selective education system so bright kids from poor of modest families can get a first class traditional high-level education. That is what used to happen – and it happened to me. The comprehensive system – imported from the USA actually (its aim was never educational but always political, racial and sociological) – destroyed that opportunity for achievement and social mobility. Interestingly, in communist Russia nd Eastern Europe, they believed in selection – and selected very young too, for sport and academic things. I know. I taught there too.

    • spofforth

      “Jade had ability and she was savvy – but she was not intelligent.”

      I’m not sure we can know that based solely on what we saw of her on TV.

      • Eddie

        I think we can.

  • Marcus

    You’ve said it all.
    I’m the son of an inner London grammar school boy. He was brought up in 1 room with his father until 22 and shared a 1 loo with 15 people!
    But he got out by the method you’ve outlined so well above. Thank god we finally have a decent education secretary.
    Keep it up!

    • telemachus

      Good that the hated doctrinaire Gove is humiliated today on ebac

      • Marcus

        He is only hated by pseudo-intellectual, vain and selfish bigots. It’s a good group to hated by if you could choose one.
        It would be much worse to be hated by an economically struggling family, who want to be able to send their children to a school that provides even a remote chance of opening the doors of opportunity that a good education provides.

        • jack mustard

          Oh don’t worry – he’s hated by plenty of “economically struggling families” too. Those families know that Gove isn’t really interested in their kids. Jade Goody, endearingly thick, received her entire education in a system managed by the Tories; today’s Tories want lots of kids to leave school labelled failures – they will be needed for the low-paid, unskilled jobs.

          • Marcus

            Jade googy’s education was a travesty. It is the Tories fault and to their shame. They were not strong enough to stand up to the Socialists and innocent children payed the price. Maybe they just didn’t care enough about children from classes that largely voted for Socialist parties, so thought ‘well they’re only getting what their incredibly bigoted and unpleasant parents voted for’.

            But still, they should have fought for them as those children were innocent.
            As to the parents who hate Gove now, their kids will at least be given a chance, even if their parents are fools and don’t

          • JellicleGirl

            What’s wrong with any family or Jade Goody ‘ ‘(endearingly thick,’ as… you… find her to be), for wanting a better life, education, skills… etc for their children, regardless…… of party in power.
            Kudos to Jade Goody, for managing…
            as much, as she did,
            in her short life.

            Just like Marcus, I am the daughter- of a first generationer, grammar school boy, whose parents, had little education themselves…
            plus , + I, am… a first generationer girl,
            on either side of my family,
            to win a place, at a top
            Democracy school.
            Not once but twice..!!

            How could I, a simple, lowly girl, in your eyes…
            manage this feat?
            to win a place.

            Seeing I, was ready, to learn – my momma and gran<
            both leaving school at age 14, taught me to read,
            and write, and think for myself –
            + music… and… culture.

            And my grammar school poppa,
            who, also had to leave at 14, taught
            me riddles, and ryhmes, and code:
            language, games – the only way he
            could communicate at times,
            because the uni -versity years
            he wanted and was driven,

            to to provide, for himself
            and our family, of five,
            living in one room,
            the year I was born –
            was knocked out of him,
            completely by WW2,
            and people, like you.

            I am amazed, and gobsmaked, indeed
            at the prevalence, and yes, irrelavence
            of your… kind, of thinking: still…
            much, abroad.. at Speccy halls.

            Just a new and, particularly vile,
            bilious: new world, ordered
            Class Structure – spewed,
            on demand.. say#s me.

            You Sir Jack, Mustard, can… call
            all, beneath your contempt,
            as `|endearingly,` thick, as
            you wish – dwelling in
            nasty, accents from
            London, or Essex…
            no matter.
            will remain,
            You, are, just plain thick, and nasty, to-boot…
            Revelling in own irrelavence, personally,
            and academically at Speccy.

            Tags from me ,
            misogyny, thick as a #plank# thinking,
            lecture -er du jour 😉

            Is there a brain, lying, quietly sleeping… beneath the veneer of
            contempt, condescension É. other than – the one which sneers
            and jeers: at fellow humans – just doing what we all do. Making
            the best of the circumstance, we are born into.. and contributing
            our skills, talents – to the future.
            formerly V16
            Valedictorian 16

            can call us all endearing thick

  • Rhoda Klapp

    Good stuff. Can those who hate Gove answer these points?

    • dalai guevara

      The point -which was not made- that schools should eventually be run for profit?
      The point -which was not made- that in the UK, you have to pay (a lot) in most cases to receive a good education?

      You know my position on that… they are ‘answered’.

      • spofforth

        So, you put an ideological hatred of profit ahead of the life chances of children? Funny how those who complain about profit rarely offer their own services for a price so low that they do not profit by it.

        • Smithersjones2013

          Profit gets in the way of brainwashing them with whatever control inducing history rewriting garbage they want to fill their heads with..

        • dalai guevara

          So, to summarize: you fail the state system, make it in the real world, then spend anything monetary you can on ensuring your kids get a better education. This is an argument for what? Allowing increased social segregation on the basis of finance, not brains?

          What on earth have profits got to do with our children’s education? This is not ideological hatred – i very well understand how business works thank you very much – it’s to do with connecting two things that do not require connecting.

          • spofforth

            I have no idea what you’re summarising. It’s not anything I said, for sure.

            “What on earth have profits got to do with our children’s education? ”

            What on earth have profits got to do with feeding our children?

            “This is not ideological hatred – i very well understand how business works thank you very much – it’s to do with connecting two things that do not require connecting.”

            I’m afraid it is connected. It’s called motivation. You may think that everyone in education is motivated solely by the spiritual reward of seeing children enlightened. But you’d be wrong, as the annual whine from the NUT about pay amply demonstrates.

            • dalai guevara

              jade goody?

              • spofforth

                “What I have an issue with is when an education system is increasingly a deviding line not for ability, but ability to pay. Do you get that point? ”

                I hope that “deviding” is an ironic statement on today’s state education system.. Anyway, it’s Gove’s reforms that will empower poor parents to get a better deal for their children. They won’t be expected to pay anything but through their choice and the profit motive of schools they will get a far better education for their children. If you can’t see the mechanism for how choice and the profit motive have driven progress throughout modern history then you really ought not to be holding such firm ideological opinions.

                • dalai guevara

                  look, it’s long been corrected – I type, my PA corrects it for me 😉

                • spofforth

                  “I type, my PA corrects it for me ;-)”

                  I use Siri: easier to blame and no need for a birthday present.

                • spofforth

                  “People don’t invent, or indeed write poetry of any significance with the motivation of making a profit.”

                  It’s lucky then that poetry is not a capital-intensive undertaking.

                • dalai guevara

                  So Penicillin was invented out of a motivation for profit?
                  Splitting atoms was profit driven?
                  Shakespeare wrote and staged plays due to his love of money?

                  All these progress defining activities are massive capital-intensive undertakings – so is the business of marketing fizzy pop and the sale of red tops.

                  I know which kind of ‘progress’ I am in favour of. The profit driven mindset does not even come close to justifying educational outcome.

                • spofforth

                  “Shakespeare wrote and staged plays due to his love of money?”

                  Oh very much so.

                  “Splitting atoms was profit driven?”

                  Leo Szilard was more existentially motivated.