Gove’s little list – the end at last

Janet Downs's picture
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Here are the final statements in Gove’s list of the Government’s achievements (comments in brackets).

The Government has:

Moved teacher training out of lecture halls and into classrooms through the introduction of Teaching Schools and School Direct. (Schools Direct allows schools to “grow” their own teachers - it’s unclear how teachers who “grow” to fit one school could move easily to a different type. The ATL argues that Schools Direct is “training on the cheap” and threatens University Initial Teacher Training. Note Gove’s use of “lecture halls”– this implies trainee teachers were passive recipients of lectures. But teacher training has always been a mixture of practical classroom work and academic study of teaching methodology.)

More than doubled funding for extra school places to £5 billion to deal with the shortage of primary places that is the direct result of the last government’s failures to control immigration and plan for a rising school population. (FullFact reported that “core funding for new places increased to £800 million a year from 2011/12 to 2014/15”. This is the figure that Gove is referring to. But FullFact also reported that Capital funding dropped in 2010/11 when capital programmes were reduced – this cut reflects “the 60% real-terms reduction in the DfE's budget”. It’s not true that Labour failed to “plan for a rising school population.” The National Audit Office said the Labour government increased its core capital funding to authorities: a total of £400 million a year from 2007/08 to 2010/11 was allocated "to help cover local growth in need for places".)

Published more data on school performance than ever before, including data on how many children from each school get to a top university – data kept hidden by the last government. (Correct up to a point although whether it was deliberately "hidden" is arguable. School Performance Tables contain more information including pupils’ previous attainment for each GCSE cohort and number of pupils on Free School Meals. Spend per pupil data is included but not for academies or free schools. The DfE needs to ensure this data is available for all schools. Gove abolished the Contextual Value Added measure which attempted to place a school’s results in context. OECD had described CVA as a step in the right direction towards developing a more sophisticated method of judging schools than just relying on raw test results. The data about the number of pupils entering "top" universities is not available – 0% of state pupils entered any university according to the tables. In any case, judging schools on whether 18 year-olds choose to go to “top” universities is judging them on circumstances beyond their control.)

Enlisted the Russell Group to design new A-levels. (A Russell Group working party will set up a new body: the A-level Content Advisory Body – Alcab – to gather opinion from academics and subject specialists. Alcab will advise Ofqual on the design and content of new A Levels in “facilitating” subject* but Ofqual will have the final say.)

Perhaps Stephen Twigg should reply to Michael Gove and remind him of what his frenzied activity has actually achieved.

 

 

* Mathematics (and further Mathematics), English literature, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Geography, History, Modern languages, Classical languages

 
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