Michael Gove faced a tough grilling from MPs on the Education Select Committee this morning about the row over GCSE English results. But the Education Secretary gave as good as he got, launching a fierce attack on the Welsh education minister Leighton Andrews for putting children in Wales at what he said was a disadvantage by ordering a remark of the papers. He told the packed committee room:
‘I believe that the children who have been disadvantaged are children in Wales. I think the decision by the Welsh education minister, Leighton Andrews, is irresponsible and mistaken. And I think that he has undermined confidence in Welsh children’s GCSEs and I think that he should think again about having made with I regard to be a regrettable political intervention in what should be a process free from political meddling.’
He insisted that to call for a remark of the papers would make him the chief examiner:
‘It would destroy the reputation of the regulator. We would have a situation where a politician would be responsible for making children’s papers and we would have a politician as chief examiner… I think that’s wrong.’
There was also a rather entertaining exchange between the secretary of state and the committee chair Graham Stuart, who, like most committee chairs, took issue with the number of leaks emanating from the department. Gove managed to perform quite a precise dance around how his plans to reform GCSEs were leaked to the media. There’s no use crying over spilt milk, he told Stuart, adding that he preferred to take a philosophical view of these matters.

But his evidence this morning underlined why that leak went straight to the front page of the Daily Mail: the GCSE system is in need of reform. An announcement on what those reforms will look like is due in the next few weeks.

Tags: GCSEs, Graham Stuart, Leighton Andrews, Michael Gove, Select committees, UK politics