Michael Gove, misguided and incompetent

Fiona Millar's picture
 39
I have just finished listening to Michael Gove wriggling on the Today programme over the issue of academy funding. According to Today's Financial Times, and as we suspected all along, too much money has been given to academy converters and the Government now has a dilemma over what to do next - their grubby attempt to surcharge all local authority budgets to pay for this has been exposed and challenged in court, so they may have no option but to claw much of the money back from schools. Either way the big bribes to convert may not be there in the future.

Challenged on the Today programme about whether this was the fault of his department, Gove was slippery, wouldn't take responsibility and attempted to pin the blame on the LAs even though one of the supposed benefits of academy status is that funding has nothing to do with local authorities and comes direct from government.

Meanwhile the FT story also shows how hollow the rhetoric about helping poor children turns out to be. According to FT Education correspondent 47% of children in Tory converter academies come from the richest 30% of the population. Under Labour 47 % were from the poorest:



In short an incompetent department , led by Michael Gove, has given big cash payments and incentives to the schools and pupils that least need it. By the way you read it here first.


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Helen Flynn's picture
Thu, 16/06/2011 - 08:30

Yes, I heard him this morning. His incompetence defies belief. Does he really believe that he is improving life chances for children through these initiatives--specifically turning the 200 lowest performing primaries into academies? And the idea that these schools have had their hands tied by bureaucratic LAs really is just rhetoric. What about LMS? Schools have had freedom to pretty much run themselves for years.

What the government needs to turn to if it wants to improve life chances for children is its economic policy--not tinkering around with school structures and bringing in private providers.

Pretty much all the evidence shows that the socio-economic circumstances into which you are born pre-determine life chances more than anything else. Somehow generating the kind of aspiration and sheer determination you need to rise above poverty is something that those in cosier economic circumstances just take as read, leaving them free to get on with the job of learning and giving them the confidence of knowing they are returning to a secure existence at the end of every day.

Raising aspirations alone and creating school structures that facilitate the private sector is really not the answer. Anyone who thinks so is barking mad.

Fiona Millar's picture
Thu, 16/06/2011 - 09:02

Helen
I feel that Peter Downes, the Lib Dem Councillor who spoke at your conference last year has really been vindicated. He has been digging away on this issue of academy funding for about nine months and predicted at the end of last year that these figures were wrong.
I really hope the Lib Dems can now tackle some of these issues within the Coalition now that they have (seemingly?) resolved concerns about the NHS Bill.

Helen Flynn's picture
Thu, 16/06/2011 - 09:22

Believe me, I am working on it!

Allan Beavis's picture
Thu, 16/06/2011 - 10:39

This is an utterly disreputable and dangerous experiment to undertake with the children of 200 primary schools. Primary schools in particular have not been desperate to convert to academies, so this is beginning to look like a high-handed way of forcing primary schools, happy to be in the care of their local authorities and who have resisted conversion, to convert against their will.

Aside from the fact there is no evidence or guarantees that schools will improve after conversion, this diktat severs the support they receive from their LAs and surrounding schools and replaces it with the tyrannical control of central government. A much less destructive approach would be to ensure that LAs and local schools to work together and share resources to improve education in their borough or council. Closing down schools will just create chaos, confusion and heartache for parents, children and all school staff (not just teachers!).

If this is supposed to be Gove's vision of state funded education then it isn't state education as we know it because there is NO democratic accountability, just the fear of axes falling and the perpetual dread of the death sentence handed out by judge and executioner Gove. How does that improve education or morale?

Andy Smithers's picture
Thu, 16/06/2011 - 11:14

Why are local authorities allowing so many pupils to be failed by these under performing primary schools.
For the last 14 years schools have had a massive increase in their budgets and theses 200 schools have no excuse.
I am sure the apologists on this site will say that each has an “excuse”, its not their fault and the best thing for them would to be in the local authority care where they will improve given time and support. Too late.
Unfortunately these schools are failing too many pupils and have run out of excuses. Their local authorities have also failed in making the necessary improvements.
Sarah – why leave them in their current state ? Why has their local authority been unable to help them ? Too many excuses.
Radical change in the management of these schools is needed immediately and the local authorities have proved they are unable to do this.

Lets quickly turn around these schools and give the pupils a chance

chair's picture
Thu, 16/06/2011 - 11:18

Andy what makes you beleive that converting to acadamies is going to resolve the problem. Who is going to administer the running of all these schools that Gove is collecting to himself. When they go wrong/ fail etc who sorts it out?

Andy Smithers's picture
Thu, 16/06/2011 - 11:24

Chair,

One thing is clear leaving them under local authority control under their current management is not an option is it ? They had their chance and have failed too many children. Or do you feel that is what should happen ?

Helen Flynn's picture
Thu, 16/06/2011 - 11:41

Yes, to think that turning schools into academies is the solution is bonkers. One of the models that Gove likes to hold up for his school reforms is the Alberta model in Canada. But the way that the Alberta system has actually worked (despite Gove's cherry picking of certain facts) is through having very strong, local, school superintendents.

At local level, the superintendent influences the culture and priorities of the district, and this crucial role is filled by only the best and brightest of former principals. Aspiring deputy and assistant heads are brought into the district office to work as assistant superintendents, so they can gain a district-wide perspective. Superintendents attend their own training college.

Gove likes to quote a former Edmonton school superintendent, Angus McBeath. But MacBeath stresses( in this article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/jan/04/education-policy-canadia...) that it has taken 30 years to put together an education system that leads the world, and he is deeply sceptical of politicians who propose a quick fix, particularly within a free market with ad hoc solutions.

MacBeath had been invited to the UK by Gove's office to tell the Secretary of State more about how he can replicate Alberta's success, but this is what McBeath said: "I doubt whether I'll be telling them what it is they want to hear. You have to have a brutal honesty about how badly you're doing. So, the only way that you can change Britain is to start embarrassing people with the ugly truth. The ugly truth is the poorest are getting screwed. And guess what? Taxes are raised for all people, not just the middle class."

Most educators in Alberta knew exactly what was wrong with the English system (overly influential private sector, too little middle-class buy-in to state schools, selection, streaming etc) – and their solutions are very different from Michael Gove's, despite Gove's rhetoric to the contrary.

It is very dangerous to believe what you have been told by Michael Gove about his "reforms" and the intent behind them. Gove's take on international evidence--which he uses to justify potentially damaging "reforms" in state education--suits his purposes and is in no way a holistic attempt at improving education for all in this country.

If the Tories could actually join up education with what they claim is localism, then they might be barking up the right tree. But they are currently way, way off the mark.

Allan Beavis's picture
Thu, 16/06/2011 - 11:47

Smithers - why are you posting the same point on two different threads? I've had to repeat myself here now

Why don’t you give us the benefit of your brilliant intellect and tell us how closing 200 primary schools against their will and turning them into Academies will improve the education of the children? What will these Academies be doing that is so magical that, by a stroke, these same kids will achieve levels of intelligence unheard of in their current state?

As you are so fond of saying – Where is the evidence to support this? What is the “radical change?” Or are you just doing your usual swallowing and regurgitating what Gove says? Because Gove hasn’t really said much about how his vision is going to turn around education has he? Just that by being an Academy and not a maintained school will improve results. But he hasn’t actually said what magic formula he has up his sleeve to achieve this, has he?

All this is achieving is forcing 200 primary schools to submit to his jurisdication with no guarantee that their education will improve and with the high risk of causing distress and confusion to children, parents and educators.

Your perpetuate the lie – as you always do – that local authorities are failing children but not all local authorities fail all schools so what is the point of dismantling a whole system, especially when the funds aren’t there to do it and our Education Secretary has been caught – once again – unable to do his maths (do go and look at Fiona’s today’s post on this dear and catch up with the news)?

Attempting to lay the blame for his incompetence on LAs and Labour shows how unfit he is to be doing what he is doing and how gullible you are as he dangles the carrot of “aspiration” in front of you having taken it away from the mouths of the ones he has tossed aside.

Ian Taylor's picture
Thu, 16/06/2011 - 13:23

Warwick Mansell asked here http://bit.ly/hzg8Xs “Is the government in effect offering schools a bribe to take on academy status? Some headteachers are wondering.”
This question was asked in April 2011. The article shows that some schools gained £600,000 to pay for services which only cost £30,000. Not a bad £570,000 profit for the school. Or is that a bribe? If schools are to be funded equally as Mr Gove states, how is this possible?

If there are no mistakes, then these schools can expect to continue to receive an additional £570,000 extra each, per annum.

If there are mistakes and the money has to be refunded, Mr Gove is going to have an angry set of headteachers. Imagine being a headteacher and having to report to your parents that your budget next year drops by £570,000, plus you have to pay back the mistake, and therefore you have to sack 10 teachers. Parents might think that the consultation that took them into Academy status was a sham (if they had any consultation at all).

When I was responsible for the school budget, if I had found a windfall of £570,000 I would have checked and double checked where this money had come from. The DfE would have been asked by headteachers, “are the figures correct”. The DfE employ accountants. I can only assume that Mr Gove intended to bribe schools. Now that he has been found out I guess the DfE will be rapidly looking for ways to blame this on someone else.

So incompetence from Mr Gove. In addition, the Labour Party are not showering themselves with honour either and I don’t know what their (education) policy is at all. Last year the LibDem Policy was directly opposed to the Academies policy.

So shambles all round really!

Andy Smithers's picture
Thu, 16/06/2011 - 14:36

Of course - do nothing. The current local authorities, governing bodies and leadership teams know exactly what to do.
Alternatively a succesful local academy can take over the management of these failing schools with immediate effect and start to improve the schools - this may take some drastic measures, replacing current leaders, improving discipline, removing failing teachers, creating a new vision/ethos, setting targets for every child and teacher, a focus on english/maths, ability to reward and pay teachers more who are able to achieve results, put in measurement sytems to track progress, set children in these schools who are progressing and put in extra help for those that are not so they can catch up etc etc etc.
Every child matters - but unfortunately you would rather see them fail than admit that these schools have failed under their current local authorites and need drastic measures to improve.

Allan - as you know most parents approve of academies, free schools and more autonomy for all schools.

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 16/06/2011 - 15:04

Mr Gove is more than misguided and incompetent. He is also delusional, blinkered and hypocritical.

Strong words - and I'll deal with them one at a time.

Hypocritical: he says he wants teaching to be a top profession attracting only the highest-scoring graduates. Then he says free schools can have untrained teachers. He pours fulsome praise on the OECD, and then ignores what they say.

Blinkered: he does not heed the measured and considered advice from the OECD (see hypocritical above). He ignores all the professionals.

Delusional: he really believes that changing the structure of schools by turning them in to academies will improve performance across the board. He has the arrogant self-confidence of a fanatical enthusiast.

And this is the man who is in charge of the education of the nation's children.

Fiona Millar's picture
Thu, 16/06/2011 - 16:06

Good point - his track record so far on running things is not very impressive.

Melissa Benn's picture
Thu, 16/06/2011 - 17:11

In answer to Andy S, I think many people - within and around local authorities, and local schools in general - have been saying for a long time: give us more resources, so we can help those children who need more help: gives us smaller classes; give us the best teachers; gives us better facilities etc. These demands have a long, honourable history, on the progressive/left, so the government can hardly claim these initiatives as their own. But nor can you blame most local authorities for failing to improve some schools, particularly those with real difficulties within the school population and in the surrounding area/s.

More importantly, the measures that are needed to create real improvement ( and there are no quick fixes) are quite separate from the privatisation, excessive rigid discipline or the contraction of rest of the curriculum in order to achieve 'depth not breadth' that is increasingly associated with academisation.

W Smith's picture
Thu, 16/06/2011 - 17:21

Andy - How can you say that most parents approve of academies, free schools and more autonomy! Most parents have no idea what those terms mean! Your presumption is huge.

Melissa Benn's picture
Thu, 16/06/2011 - 17:44

Yes - to follow up Wendy's point..most parents have no idea the extent of the changes the government is making, the reasons for them or what they will mean in the long term, either nationally or for them in their areas. There are a lot of people out there hungry for some substantive analysis of what is happening

Andy Smithers's picture
Thu, 16/06/2011 - 18:25

Wendy and Melissa,

Firstly the fact that most parents support and want Free schools, academies and more autonomy come from polls held by NUT/YouGov and NCPTA Parental Survey.
They have been previously discussed on this site. Please do remember this when you make assumptions about who is supporting your own campaigns.

Wendy - please give us parents more credit we understand many terms. Your presumption is insulting.

Melissa - with regard to improving primary schools and the inability of some local authorities to improve these 200 primary schools. Again remember they have had at least 5 years (mostly under a Labour Government) with plenty of financial resources. You probably need to think again about your depth before breadth comment. A child cannot access a broad curriculum until the basic english and maths are fully understood. Also can you explain what you have against rigid discipline, especially in relation to failing schools.

Fiona Millar's picture
Thu, 16/06/2011 - 18:35

Just out of interest Andy. You support this policy of changing the status of an existing school to try and improve it. However the stories we are getting on the site suggest that there is a parallel policy in place which allows some groups/parents to open a free school down the road if existing provision isn't good enough, even if it means providing surplus places. This seems to me quite illogical. If the government is going to try and improve existing provision by handing schools over to new providers surely new places should only be created if there is a shortage?
Combining the two at a time of financial cutbacks seems to me to be another example of Gove's inability to pursue anything clearly and efficiently.

Steve Sarsfield's picture
Thu, 16/06/2011 - 18:37

What have we learnt today?

Michael Gove has effectively just sacked 200 primary Heads that work in the most challenging areas and do the most difficult jobs.

When Gove is asked serious questions about the chaotic funding crisis surrounding academies we are treated to the most infantile claptrap and blames the funding errors on the previous government and the LA’s.

Nobody buys this. Even Christine Odone blogs about his appalling PR blunder in today’s DT!

When asked how schools can improve we are told.

"The essence of ensuring schools improve is getting bureaucracy out of the way, and making sure that heads are liberated in order to concentrate solely on student achievement."

The ONLY bureaucracy in the way of schools is the form filling and online data entries the DfE sends out. The LA’s have had very little influence over schools since the inception of LMS.

And finally we hear that “academies were able to benefit individual students because they were driven not by money, but a change of attitude".

Yes Michael...and the Cat ran away with the Moon

Andy Smithers's picture
Thu, 16/06/2011 - 19:03

Fiona - I do support this change. These schools have been failing pupils for at least 5 years mostly under Labour and it cannot be allowed to continue. What do you suggest ? Just seen Channel 4 news with King Solomon Academy which is obtaining excellent results in very trying circumstances similar to those of the failing primaries.
What you are not adding into the equation is the incresing rolls in many parts of London and the South East - Free Schools will hopefully help with this.
The OECD also approve of Free Schools/Academies and acknowledge that you may need to have surplus places in order to improve standards.
Anything that improves Educational outcomes for our children should be pursued - even in times of financial cutbacks.

Fiona Millar's picture
Thu, 16/06/2011 - 20:10

AS it happens I visited the King Solomon Academy yesterday. It is clearly a very good school but much of the work going on in the school is not dissimilar to what is going on in many other excellent London primary schools. Moreover it hasn't replaced a failing school, nor does it have a full cohort so it is too early to judge outcomes with any certainty. The big difference there is the longer day , but this could be extended to other schools without having to turn them into academies.

You are basically saying that you think it is OK for some schools to fail in order that others succeed, this is the inevitable conclusion in areas where free schools create surplus places.

How does that help the children in those schools?

Stephen Smith's picture
Thu, 16/06/2011 - 20:45

I heard Michael Gove today not on R4 but on 5 live. His comments are so facile - he seems to have little if any understanding of how schools, or education authorities are run.

He spoke continually of stopping bureaucrats from running schools - but in the same breath announcing that a man behind a desk will be compelling schools to become academies. This from a government which promises small hands-off government. That's not hands off government Mickey, that's interfering state bureaucracy.

If as seems likely schools are left with little option but to become academies, has it not crossed his mind that he's going to need an army of administrators at the DfE, to ensure that these schools run effectively, duplicating the existing work of Local Authorities ?

Allan Beavis's picture
Fri, 17/06/2011 - 03:18

Sadly Smithers has no desire to help all children. Only the ones he would like to see segregated off as deserving. Like Gove, he has no interest in equal and fair distribution of help and conceals his appalling snobbery under the fallacious mask of concern. The risible thing is, he fools no one but persists in airing his distasteful views and uninformed opinions as if he were a man of reason and intellect. Rigoletto, but without the heart.

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 17/06/2011 - 06:56

Andy, you have again misrepresented what OECD says about free schools and academies. I did you the courtesy of replying on another thread with a very long quotation from the OECD UK Economic Survey 2011 which does not say that OECD "approve" of free schools/academies. OECD said that the policy may increase user choice BUT it needed careful monitoring because it could disadvantage the already disadvantaged. It also said, as you know, that the evidence about the effect of user choice on education outcomes is mixed.

Despite this mixed evidence about user choice, you are correct that in the case of England the OECD does say that "increasing user choice would hence induce stronger competition between schools which could provide better educational outcomes." (Note the word "could" - again OECD is being circumspect which would be expected as they've just said that the evidence about user choice is mixed).

In a later section OECD consider supply flexibility, and this would support the idea that low-performing schools should "exit", new schools should enter and popular schools be allowed to expand because supply flexibility is low in England. OECD conclude that "temporary excess capacity may have to be accepted to ensure that parents and students are able to choose schools rather than the other way."

This is the quandary in which the government finds itself. For years local authorities were legally bound to reduce surplus places, hence the number of school closures in past years. If there is to be supply flexibility, then surplus places have to be funded. It would not be enough to allow schools with empty places to exist on per-capita funding only because a reduced roll means less money to spend on teachers and a reduction in the number of courses available. That makes the under-subscribed school less popular with parents.

It will be interesting to see whether the government will pick up the OECD challenge and fund surplus places. They won't, because we in a recession, and because no previous government has been willing to do so. So we will have the situation where free schools are encouraged to set up, whether or not there is a real demand for places, and if this then has a negative effect on the rolls of neighbouring schools to the extent that viability is threatened, then schools will be amalgamated or closed. The result is: no surplus places - no supply flexibility.

And Andy, just in case you've lost my previous long reply, it is here:

http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2011/06/the-dark-side-of-competiti...

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 17/06/2011 - 07:08

I think it's rather worrying when a Secretary of State for Education, who is supposed to be in charge of all the country's schools, exaggerates the extent of local authority control. He talks about bureaucrats running schools, implying that schools are suffocated by the mighty hand of local authorites, when he knows that local authority responsibility is limited to such things as admissions and schools already have considerable autonomy.

This begs the questions: why is Mr Gove overstating the control of local authorities? Why is he marketing academy conversion and free schools so heavily? What is the hidden agenda?

Andy Smithers's picture
Fri, 17/06/2011 - 08:18

Fiona,

So again you have seen the excellent work an academy does under very difficult circumstances. I assume you support this school.
You say failing schools could copy and I wish they would. They have had both the time and the money to do this over the last 5 years but have failed. More importantly they have failed their children and their community.
I have asked all here including you how to sort this out - silence.
Why have all these local authority schools refuse to change and improve? Academies do it as you know. Who is against change and improvement? LSN?

Allan Beavis's picture
Fri, 17/06/2011 - 08:30

I wonder if anyone now has to pay for Gove's staggering incompetence by paying the money back? In the private and public sector he would surely get a disciplinary. Or is this just gross misconduct?

chair's picture
Fri, 17/06/2011 - 08:31

Andy to answer your point way back in the discussion, no school should be allowed to fail, of course that begs the question what is failure? is not acheiving some arbitary level of 5 GCSE's or the right number of students achieve level 4 at primary school the ultimate measure of success. Surely there is more to success than that?
I am a Governor in a school in special measures, i was brought by the local authority along with the Head of the school i am chair of governors in. One of deputy heads was selected as Acting head of this school and we in less than a year are heading out of special measures at speed according to the Ofsted inspector. It was local problem which has been solved locally with local people. We are not an Acadamy and have no wish to be become one.
The problem as i see it, is that there is not enough interference in schools that are not performing. only Ofsted can start an action plan and say things need to change. Our LA knew there was a problem but they could not interfere other than to advise, the Head of the time was hiding his head in the sand, the governors were detached/ asleep or out of thier depth. The problem is that no one outside the school locally can take any action with a failing school.
The government goes on about localism, yet in education gathers all the power to itself, effectively centralising education for years to come.
Any fool can critise the existing system ( yes even Gove) a person with half a brain can see there is a problem but it will take a real brain to come up with a solution. I dont profess to be that person but heres an idea, which i think is better than taking a sledgehammer to the problem as Gove proposes and introduces localism ( a government comitment i believe) into the equation. Yes lets take the canadian idea but adapt it to our own, lets have area education boards made up of stakeholders including excellent Heads ( like my own) who have the power to interfere in schools if they are failing/ not acheiving what they should be and to simply advise/ monitor if they are not.
Let the local people sort out local problems.
But first of all can we please have a robust definition of a failing school because the % of GCSE's a child obtains is not it.

W Smith's picture
Fri, 17/06/2011 - 10:25

Andy - I am parent, I work with parents, the reason that a lot of parents do not understand what the implications of academies, free schools etc are for their children in the future is because they are not being informed by their government of the sweeping changes that are being made.
I am not insulting parents, I am insulting Mr Gove for his lack of honesty and clarity. His actions are underhand and undemocratic. Your arguments in his defence have little substance, include massive generalisations and do not answer the question that so many people are asking you - why do schools have to have millions spent on them to become academies and free schools when they are quite capable of being and many are good/outstanding schools now? I believe that you are very naive to think that Mr Gove's fragmentation of the education system is all about improving education for all. It is about power and greed.

Fiona Millar's picture
Fri, 17/06/2011 - 10:37

I think we should send Ofsted into his office. He would surely be judged 'unsatisfactory' quite quickly - lack of rigour, poor attention to detail, poor accounting practices, poor value for money. I could go on - and that is before we actually see how he performs on output and impact.

Fiona Millar's picture
Fri, 17/06/2011 - 10:46

I support all local schools but will you acknowledge that there are also some academies that are not good enough? A higher proportion according to Ofsted than in maintained schools. My point is that academy status alone will not guarantee better outcomes for children. KSA is obviously a good school but I didn't see much there that I haven't seen in other outstanding local authority, or indeed faith, primary schools ( apart from the longer day).
What I object to most of all, and this was illustrated yet again in Gove's speech yesterday, is the refusal to recognise that excellence, rigour, high expectations and stong accountability exist in many maintained schools.
I repeat academies and free schools do NOT have the monopoly on these things.

Ros Coffey's picture
Fri, 17/06/2011 - 10:47

Having also been brought in as an additional governor at a school which at that time had spent the longest period languishing in Special Measures, I agree with much of what Chair said. I was asked by the LA to work towards closing the school, however the Acting Head and I thought that the pupils deserved better than that and thought turning the school around rapidly was a much better option, we did this in 14 months and the school was determined to be a good school with outstanding features by its next Ofsted.

To be honest it matters not a jot if you convert a school into an Academy, what does matter is good leadership from both the HT and the GB. When we were looking for a Head for this school, we only had one application, fortunately from an outstanding candidate. If we are to get rid of the "so called failing heads" who for all we know may have recently been drafted in by the LA to address the failings, with whom are we to replace them? Do you really want someone who is chasing a higher salary or someone who actually has a passion for education... I know which one I would choose.

Melissa Benn's picture
Wed, 22/06/2011 - 07:57

I have just caught up with the actual interview with Michael Gove on the Today programme that started off this thread. It is highly embarrassing to listen to - as there clearly has been a mistake, and the mistake cannot be pinned on the local authority. Gove, literally, has no answers.
What I find interesting about the interview - more broadly - is that, when in a tight corner, Gove starts to lash out at a series of caricatures - bureaucratic local authorities, the previous government, even ' old Labour' Andy Burnham ( hardly!) If Sarah Montague had had a couple more minutes, no doubt he'd have chucked in the unions and the hard left.
This is the shaky ground on which so much of government policy - and the politics of its allies - has been built....identifying often imaginary enemies in order to justify rapid, highly political change ( for which the government did NOT get a mandate) and now, to justify its own incompetence.

It would be pathetic if it weren't depressing and rather dangerous.

Allan Beavis's picture
Wed, 22/06/2011 - 08:21

The DfE are keen to alert us to Gove speeches and broadcasts but when I contacted them three times to see whether they would provide links to the Today programme they did not respond.

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 22/06/2011 - 18:08

The interview was cringe-making. It's as if Mr Gove is programmed to bring up the caricatures when he's put on the spot. He does this in Parliament - the Speaker is always having to remind him to keep his answers short at Education Question Time because he launches into a rehearsed litany of his policies, how he's shaking-up education, freeing schools from the heavy yoke of the LAs (no, Mr Gove, it's the DfE and your directives that schools want freeing from) how the UK has tumbled down the education league tables in ten years (a lie, as we know), how he's going to be "rigorous" about something or other, and so on.

As Melissa says, "it would be pathetic if it weren't depressing and rather dangerous".

Melissa Benn's picture
Wed, 22/06/2011 - 20:32

No - really - Allan? I find that hard to believe!

Allan Beavis's picture
Wed, 22/06/2011 - 22:45

Melissa - actually they never respond to anything challenging. They won't tell me why Gove is supporting the Charter model and it's high profile Reformers even though there are harsh criticisms about the negative effects of the programme in the US. Sam Freedman won't tell me either. I am beginning to wonder if they have something to hide...I wonder if I should morph into Sarah Montague and give myself 15 minutes of airtime just so I can ask

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 23/06/2011 - 07:34

Getting replies from the DfE about anything is a challenge. It took me months to get a reply from them about the misrepresentation of OECD data and then I challeged what the spokesman said (twice). I'm still waiting for replies about the following (among others):

1 Is it fair that a school, any school, should be judged inadequate on the SAT results of only 12 pupils, a third of whom had special educational needs, when the teaching was judged satisfactory?

2 A request that Nick Gibb provide the evidence for his assertion that the OECD has said that British independent education is the best in the world, when the OECD has found that UK state schools outperform privately-managed schools when socio-economic factors are accounted for. http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/33/8/46624007.pdf

If the DfE is so slow at answering requests, then it doesn't bode well for any parent wanting to complain about academies or admissions to academies.

FJ Murphy's picture
Mon, 19/11/2012 - 22:06

I agree with one remark: the DfE is incompetent and has been for a long time. LSN is becoming consumed with hatred for Mr Gove, which I do not think is healthy.

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