Coffee House

Nick Clegg wants greater control over academies and the curriculum

10 June 2014

8:58 AM

10 June 2014

8:58 AM

The ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal in Birmingham is, inevitably, being used to prove the pet arguments nurtured by a number of people, even though the reality is more complicated.

Some argue that this shows the dangers of faith schools, even though these were not faith schools. Others, including Nick Clegg and Tristram Hunt, are arguing that the ‘balance’ of oversight of free schools and academies needs to be corrected, even though not all of the 21 schools investigated by Ofsted were outside local authority control. The Deputy Prime Minister was on the Today programme this morning, and he dropped a number of comments that suggest he’s keen to make changes, and changes that will cause a row with the Tories.


First, he suggested he wanted more central control over the curriculum:

‘So I think maybe one of the things we need to think about is how do we make sure that a core body of knowledge, which of course that body of knowledge has within it a lot of the values that we all believe in, how do we make sure that a core curriculum, not a great sprawling one, is taught in all schools in our country regardless of the nameplate at the school gates?’

Then he hinted that he wanted less autonomy:

‘Look, I’m a fan of giving headteachers greater autonomy, which is the simple idea behind academies, in the way in which they run their school… I don’t see why other headteachers don’t enjoy the same prerogatives and autonomy as headteachers do in academies.

‘But school autonomy is all very well until it is abused and that has clearly been the case here. And that is why you need to get the balance right and that’s what I think a lot of parents, as they look at all of this this morning, would be quite surprised to learn.’

The coverage of yesterday’s patching up mission in the Commons is probably what Downing Street was aiming for in that it rightly focuses on the Ofsted reports on the schools concerned, rather than the politics between Theresa May and Michael Gove. But while those two ministers have closed down hostilities for now at least, it looks as though another fight will open up on another front: Nick Clegg’s comments advocating greater centralisation at least return the coalition to more comfortable cross-party fighting rather than blue-on-blue.

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Show comments
  • evad666

    There has been a deliberate attempt to undermine western values now for decades and this is now the future for our children.
    Street Executions, FGM, Child prostitution gangs, Honour Killings, Sheds with Beds, Crash for Cash protected by the UAF and SWP all supported by the illiberal lefts moral relativism and Police and Government inaction. Yes Mr Cameron I include you in the list of those responsible. You and Messrs Clegg and Milliband

  • GUBU

    Mr Clegg looks as if he is telling that young girl exactly what he thinks of Lord Oakeshoot and his private polls – using a few words she has never heard in class before, by the look of it.

  • Liberty

    What has happened is that some faiths have become more equal than others. Judaism and Christianity changed during the enlightenment and reformation so became less peaceable and more tolerant. Islam did not go through the enlightenment or reformation so stayed barbarous and intolerant. So, that Islam maintains beliefs in the abuse and subjugation of women, intolerance of other faiths, anti-democracy, etc then creates the ‘swamp’ from which beheading, stoning, child marriage, cutting off of hands, etc flourishes. It does not help that Mohammed not only explicitly orders these things but took part in or did these things himself. So, we now have the situation where Gove has prohibited practices and values that are core to a significant faith group in the UK so they will have to make the choice of giving up the faith, reforming it or rebelling. We live in interesting times indeed.

  • Rhoda Klapp8

    Not only is he a prat, he is yesterday’s prat. Next!

  • Hexhamgeezer

    that pic shows that once Clogg is turfed out of politics he can get a p/t looky-likee job as Ricky Gervais’ ‘Derek’.

  • Grey Wolf

    Why is Speccie wasting so much electronic paper on this comprehensively defeated guy? Who cares what he wants? I know the coalition is coming to an end but not the era of coalition politics. Nobody is going to get a clear majority in 2015 and I hope UKIP has a kingmaker role.

  • Mynydd

    Why is it now these concerns, after giving Mr Gove a free hand, for over four years, on free schools and academies. Did he not realise that Mr Gove was centralising education around himself and his Whitehall desk. Did Mr Clegg not realise that banning books as taken power away from headmasters. It seems to me that Mr Clegg has fallen for Mr Cameron’s propaganda that Mr Gove is doing a wonderful job

  • Mr Creosote

    Nick Clegg just wants greater control …period. This is self-evident every time he opens his mouth.

  • swatnan

    Why not admit that politicians have got it wrong and give a hurrah for State Education and State scrutiny of the classroom. Lets get back to neighbourhood schooling, and County administration, and Education being put back into the hands of the proffessionals teachers and academics who know about Education because thats their job, not int the hands of politicians and a few politically/religiously motivated Governors and Parents. A State Secular Education System would do much better than the chaos that reigns now.

    • BarkingAtTreehuggers

      We can’t have professinals do jobs, or skills set required before one enters a classroom, fixes down a piece of plasterboard or cuts someone’s hair for that matter. It that sense Britain is indeed mentally one step closer to Africa than to Europe.

    • Chris Kimberley

      religion should not be involved in education other than being taught as an interesting facet of history

      Gove expanding Tony Blairs academey and faith/ free school programme was always going to lead to this kind of disaster

      open education provision to anyone; charities, religions, private companies and you get a myriad of different agendas being pushed on children

      its **** madness and needs to be reversed

    • DWWolds

      Because when Labour controlled education in the way you describe the achievement of our 15 year olds in the core subject plummeted down the international comparison tables.

    • Rhoda Klapp8

      Yes, and shops should be in the hands of shop assistants, unbothered by what the customers think.

  • BarkingAtTreehuggers

    Nick Clegg gets far too much press.
    Mistress Merkel must be on a boat with three other schoolboys.
    Would Farage fit into that picture?
    Of course not, that’s just common sense-ism.

  • Tony_E

    The ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal in Birmingham is, inevitably, being used to
    prove the pet arguments nurtured by a number of people, even though the
    reality is more complicated.

    Surely the issue is that the state has been complicit in an exercise of moral and cultural relativism for decades, and have failed to protect, or even seek to protect the ethos of the majority, or the historical continuity of our western liberal and cultural values.

    When large communities were encouraged to come to this country they were encouraged to create enclaves for themselves, to a lesser or greater degree segregated from the existing population and its way of life, value system and cultural norms. It’s hardly surprising that they create local structures for themselves which replicate values that are almost exclusively of their own past, their own heritage and religion.

    Whatever politicians tell you now, they were either in favour of this (because there were votes in it), or they simply turned a blind eye to it because they didn’t think that it was a fight worth having for fear of it being a vote loser. But it was was incredibly short sighted and was always going to result in the situation we have now.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Even though Cameron and other politicians repudiated multi-culturalism as a failure it is still being peddled as doctrine (Willetts asserted it and the ridiculously emotive ‘enrichment’ argument on a recent edition of QT) and there is a residual unwillingness to assert a British mono-culture or criticise some of the imported practices in the ‘enclaves’. Only history will judge just how pernicious the long term effects of that foolishly seeded sectarianism will be but the prospects don’t look good.

      Currently I despise politicians for what they have done to this country and the cowardice and weasel words they display to evade responsibility for the all too apparent consequences.

      • Airey Belvoir

        Islamism is a horrible and growing cancer and if it is allowed to take root in schools, twisting young minds, the outlook for our liberal western society is bleak. The only solution may be a complete disconnect between religion and education, ending all faith schools.

        • Kitty MLB

          Its actually barbaric and medieval and has no place in the western world. We have no wish to be dragged back to the dark ages.
          If people wish to follow their own intolerant ideals they should
          do so in their own countries. And have no right trying to
          indoctrinate our young.
          But I do not agree, there is nothing wrong with our Church
          of England schools and this is a Christian country.
          They should not be dictating our religion to us, and its
          utter treachery that we are under this threat because of
          ignorance of politicians.

          • Tony_E

            Also, our laws have evolved in a nominally Christian society, so therefore they are in tune largely with our cultural heritage and history.

            People forget how much blood and gold were spilt throughout history for the simple laws which the post war generations have slowly dismantled. From the time of the Magna Carta and the fight against King John, to the English Civil war, Wilberforce and the ending of slavery, the extension of the voting franchise – we have much to be careful to conserve that our forbears fought for.

            We have exported our parliamentary system to the English speaking world, along with our language and the norms of property, personal and constitutional laws. How have we come to this place where we have lost our confidence in the principles that we spent a Millennia seeking to define?

            • Blindsideflanker

              One important value we had was to make religion a private matter. As Elizabeth I said, she didn’t want a window into men’s souls. Making religion a private matter allowed us to rub along reasonably harmoniously. Allowing immigrant groups to enter the country and not take heed of keeping religion a private matter is resulting in a great deal of our current problems. Muslims wearing their fascistic religious garb is to put their religion up in lights where ever they go and create divisions in every high street they frequent.

              • DWWolds

                On TV yesterday evening I spotted a father in a knee length Muslim robe leading a little girl – presumably his daughter – by the hand. She had her head covered with a scarf, and was wearing a long sleeved top and trousers. In other words the majority of her body was covered up. She was about 3 years old. Thinking through the implications of that I, for one, find it quite frightening.

        • Blindsideflanker

          Too late, our politicians delude themselves that Islam is just like any other religion, but it is not, it is an instruction on how to set up a society. as such it will always come into conflict with other civilisations.

        • Mr Creosote

          Welcome back hairy beaver, couldn’t agree more! Banning all this head-covering nonsense in schools and workplaces would be a good start – this is all a relatively recent phenomenon: if you look back at news footage of crowds, from the time of Nasser in Egypt, very few of the women are wearing headscalfs / niqwabs / burkas etc.

          • Blindsideflanker

            And the ridiculous ramadan , which has to be a health hazard. Would you like go under a Muslim surgeon’s knife after he has been starving himself of food and drink for 6 hours, and got a sugar low shakes as a result.

            And as for children, when the state is having to pay for children to have a popper meal so that they remain attentive, why should we tolerate people sending their children to school who haven’t eaten since dawn, and won’t during the rest of the day?

        • an ex-tory voter

          The problem is not faith schools, the problem is Islam.

        • Hexhamgeezer

          No. Just close !$lamic schools – simpler, quicker, cheaper, and effectively deals with the problem

        • Grey Wolf

          Why all faith schools? What wrong have Catholics, Anglicans, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians and Pagans done?

          So far as I can see, read and comprehend the source of trouble is always from the Muslim extremists. Shut them down.

      • Bob Thomas

        Yep. Cameron “repudiated” multiculturalism pretty early on. Merkel did much the same for a German audience. Yet, the refusal to recognise that Western/European/British/English values not only exist but need to be protected and promoted if they are going to survive continues to this day. A less “extreme” example is the mad wailing of the Left when Gove suggested that the English Literature GCSE should include some English literature.

        You say you heard Willetts talking about Britain being a multicultural country on QT. Chris Grayling (a man who embodies every negative that one associates with the word ‘Tory’) was doing much the same on another recent edition.

    • Blindsideflanker

      Well said. If it wasn’t so serious it would be amusing seeing the British establishments multicultural project begin to come apart though its own structural contradiction.

      They are now rushing around trying to construct a British narrative, but have so comprehensively dismantled our nation they look ridiculous. Ah they say we believe in democracy, and you wonder if they mean the democracy where they have disenfranchised us with Brussels. Then they talk about equality, and you wonder how they square that with the West Lothian Question.Then they talk about the rule of law, and you wonder what law is that, Common Law or Sharia Law, And when they finally give up trying to scratch around trying to find a value they latch on to tolerance. Ah we are tolerant they say, which is really saying that we don’t have any values we wish to defend. So in tolerating everything they are really saying they believe in nothing.

    • DWWolds

      My thoughts exactly! Thank you!

    • Liberty

      The bottom line is that Christianity and Judaism are peaceable and tolerant whilst Islam is barbarous and intolerant. Gove’s changes force Muslims to be educated in values and beliefs that contradict Islam’s core beliefs [and coincide with those of Christianity and Judaism, ‘Leave unto Ceaser …’ and all that]. The results will be ‘interesting’ to say the least.

  • an ex-tory voter

    I bet Michael Gove is really concerned about these comments from the Deputy Prime Minister. Of course we need more centralist state control of education, the model has proved such a runaway success why would any sane Minister of State for Education think of doing anything else?
    As for Clegg, it is a predictable shot from someone desperate to amass some personal support from the rank and file of the Laberal Democrats.