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Gove keeps on going

18 June 2011

10:39 AM

18 June 2011

10:39 AM

My gosh, Michael Gove is hyperactive at the moment. From his interview with James in the latest issue of the Spectator, to his recent announcements about failing primary schools
and secondary school standards, this is a man who just cannot stop. So stop he doesn’t. The Secretary of State for education is delivering yet another speech on Monday. And he has another interview (£), with Rachel Sylvester and Alice Thomson, in today’s Times.

The Times interview, if you can vault across the paywall, is a worthwhile read. In it, Gove draws attention to the anti-reformist bent of local authoritarians; he warns that if we fail to
adequately educate our population, then "we will all end up being employed by Chinese billionaires"; and he ranks Nick Soames ahead of Nick Clegg in his affections. It also contains this
quite significant admission that Gove isn’t against profit-making academies for ideological reasons, but more for reasons of presentation:

“Obviously I don’t have any ideological objection to profit-making institutions. The people who set our exams, provide school food and sell textbooks make a profit. But I
don’t see the need to have schools making a profit because the idealism is very precious. I think a profit motive would turn the academies movement from something that is all about
philanthropy and generosity into something that was seen in a different light.”

The comments getting the most airtime, though, are those where Gove attacks the exam system as "discredited" and "easier". Fixing that will be the focus of his next
tranche of reforms, he suggests — and he’s right to make it so. Quite apart from what weaker exams mean for students, they are also threatening to Gove’s wider, structural reforms. You can
improve state schools all you like, but so long as they are working towards diluted qualifications and diluted grades, then the improvements will always be in doubt. This, I imagine, is part of the
reason why Gove has been so keen for academies to adopt the more rigorous international baccalaureate; almost to prove that they really are better.

So while various groups and individuals have come out to attack Gove today for "demoralising" pupils,
don’t expect him to buckle when it comes to fixing the exam system. The hyperactivity, as it were, continues.


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