Why did Gove only celebrate academies and free schools?

Henry Stewart's picture
 4
On 10th July, in what may have been his last speech as Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove talked of "celebrating success wherever it’s found". I was intrigued by this claim and curious to find out whether this was true or whether it was another of Gove's Orwellian phrases, where he means the opposite of what he says. So I submitted an FoI request, about which schools Gove had talked about in his speeches and which schools he had visited.

In the 10th July speech, where Michael Gove talked of "celebrating success wherever it’s found", he referred to five educational establishments. Four were academies and one was an academy chain. In all his 2014 speeches (including the 10th July speech), Gove named 25 schools (and one FE college). Of the schools 20 were academies, 2 were free schools, one was independent and just two were non-academies (both primaries). He did not refer to a single maintained secondary school in any speech this year.

It is still the case that over 80% of England's schools are not academies. Yet 92% of the schools that Gove included in his speeches were academies or free schools. Did he see himself as the Minister for education, or as the minister for academies and free schools?

Although the DfE FOI response states that the 10th July speech was "designed to celebrate ... excellent schools of every type", it clearly did not do so. And neither did Michael Gove seek to celebrate schools of every type in the rest of his speeches.

School Visits: Gove visited many outstanding academies but no outstanding maintained schools



In 2014 Michael Gove visited 38 schools (and one FE College). He was much keener on visiting secondary schools: Of the 38, no less than 31 were secondaries, one was a UTC and just 6 were primary schools.

Of the 31 secondaries: 21 were academies, 2 were free schools, 2 were studio schools, 3 were independent schools and just 3 were community schools. He was as likely to visit a private school as a non-academy secondary. (Of the 6 primaries, 5 were non academies.)

But here's an interesting detail. Of the secondary academies he visited, 8 were rated by Ofsted as Outstanding, 11 as Good and 1 as Inadequate. But of the 3 community schools, none were rated Outstanding and one was rated Requires Improvement. It is true that many Outstanding schools chose to convert to become academies but there are still over 200 non-academy secondary schools that are rated Outstanding, and that he could have chosen to visit.

This is intriguing. Was this deliberate, either by Gove or his advisors? If many of the academies he visits are outstanding, and none of the community schools are, then it would make him even more certain that academies are better schools. Maybe it was accidental, could it have been a clever way to cement his one-sided view of schools?

 

Schools mentioned in Michael Gove's speeches in 2014:

Harris Primary Academy Philip Lane
Greenwood Dale Trust Academies
Reach Academy
London Academy of Excellence
Holland Park School (Academy)
London Academy of Excellence (Free school)
Gordon’s School (Academy)
Sexey’s School (Academy)
Harris Academy Chafford Hundred (Academy)
King Solomon Academy (Academy)
Hockerill Anglo-European College (Academy)
Twyford Church of England High School (Academy)
Mossbourne Community Academy (Academy)
Thomas Jones Primary School (Community school)
Wetherby School (Independent school)
Liverpool College (Academy)
Willows Special School (Academy)
Burlington Danes school (Academy)
Kensington Aldridge Academy (Academy, opening September 2014)
Nottingham Academy (Academy)
Perry Beeches (Academy)
Durand Academy (Academy)
Wyndham Primary Academy (Academy)
Al Madinah School (Free school)
Discovery Free School (Free school)
Harrison Primary School (Community school)

Schools visited by Michael Gove in 2014:

Bishop Perowne Church of England College (Academy)
Cheltenham Bournside School (Academy)
Marling School (Academy)
Wishmore Cross Academy (Academy)
Holland Park School (Academy)
Bohunt School (Academy)
Collingwood College (Academy)
Bristol Free School (Free school)
The City Academy Bristol (Academy)
Merchants Academy (Academy)
Sexeys School (Academy)
The Kimberley School (Academy)
Lees Brook Community School (Academy)
Guildhall School of Music and Drama (Independent)
Chobham Academy (Academy)
Theale Green School (Academy)
Theale Church of England Primary School (Voluntary controlled school)
Great Sankey High School (Academy)
Norbury Hall Primary School (Community school)
Bramhall High School (Community school)
Barnes Primary School (Community school)
Malcom Arnold Academy (Academy)
Brooke Weston Academy (Academy)
Limehurst Academy (Academy)
Ockendon Studio School (Studio school)
Burnt Mill Academy (Academy)
Brighton College (Independent school)
Kings International College (Foundation school)
William Perkin (Free school)
Toot Hill School (Academy)
Robert Blair Primary School (Community school)
William Tyndale Primary School (Academy)
Rye Studio School, (Studio school)
Reach Academy (Academy)
Wellington College (Independent school)
Ash Manor School (Community school)
Ash Grange Primary School (Community school)
The Elstree UTC (University Technical College)

 
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Comments

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 24/08/2014 - 07:33

It was obvious from the start that Gove favoured academies and free schools. The DfE website became nothing more than a marketing exercise for these set ups. Community schools were relegated to a hidden page while academies and free schools were given extensive coverage including 'case studies' (ie puff pieces by supportive heads) and videos in which featured heads praising Gove's policies.

Gove was supposed to be Secretary of State for Education - but he was really SoS for academies and free schools. Most schools are, as Henry said, non-academies but they are derided as 'council run' schools. Gove was like the worst kind of head - praising and rewarding his favourites (the 'outstanding' ones who agreed with him) while castigating the majority (the 'bad' ones who didn't agree with him).

Nicky Morgan, the new SoS, said in a letter to shadow SoS Tristram Hunt that academies and free schools are only part of the picture. But the letter is a hymn of praise for academies and free schools. Her tone may be different, but the prejudice in favour of these schools remains.

https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/nicky-morgans-letter...


jennyquestions's picture
Mon, 25/08/2014 - 14:25

Why did Gove only celebrate academies and free schools? Because he was busy aping the Americans turning a public service into a private one. In 1969 the first black paper was written attacking comprehensive schooling on principle; its authors were disgusted by the post-war egalitarianism that had begun to creep into society and positively horrified by the student protests (US and UK) that were an indication of what might happen if entire populations were properly educated. In an executive/representative democracy such as ours there was no expectation that Gove would listen to parents or teachers/schools. In a more participatory democracy he would have had to listen to the real needs of ordinary people. Detached from anything so tiresome and closely tied to numerous large-scale corporate interests (not least Rupert Murdoch who has more than a passing interest in the money that can be siphoned out of public pockets into his own via national education systems). Given the absolute faith in privatisation, the lack of interest in these matters amongst the general population, the Conservative anti-statist stance that is clear from the 1969 Black Paper onwards and the soft-headed press-release publishing UK media it's hardly surprising that Gove/Morgan/whoever's next make no real effort to disguise what they are doing. There's no need to bother! That's why Gove only celebrated academies and free schools, because they are the fruits of his efforts. It seems a naive question to me.


… 1. Why did Gove only celebrate academies and free schools? Because he was busy aping the Americans turning a public service into a private one. In 1969 the first black paper was written attacking comprehensive schooling on principle; its authors were disgusted by the post-war egalitarianism that had begun to creep into society and positively horrified by the student protests (US and UK) that were an indication of what might happen if entire populations were properly educated. In an executive/representative democracy such as ours there was no expectation that Gove would listen to parents or teachers/schools. In a more participatory democracy he would have had to listen to the real needs of ordinary people. But he is detached from anything so tiresome as this and he is closely tied to numerous large-scale corporate interests (not least Rupert Murdoch who has more than a passing interest in the money that can be siphoned out of public pockets into his own via national education systems). Given the absolute faith in privatisation, the lack of interest in these matters amongst the general population, the Conservative anti-statist stance that is clear from the 1969 Black Paper onwards and the soft-headed, press-release-publishing UK media it’s hardly surprising that Gove/Morgan/whoever’s next make no real effort to disguise what they are doing. There’s no need to bother! That’s why Gove only celebrated academies and free schools, because they are the fruits of his efforts. It seems a naive question to me. – See more at: http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2014/08/why-did-gove-only-celebrat...


Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 11/09/2014 - 15:37

Full Fact has published the opinion of the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) on making comparisons between Ofsted judgements of free schools and maintained schools. UKSA said the number of free schools inspected was only small and the number of free schools judged outstanding was also small. UKSA also said:

'...there is a likely (‘downward’) bias in the judgements for maintained schools as presented in the tables, because those previously judged to be outstanding are less likely to be inspected in any given period.'

https://fullfact.org/education/free_schools_performance_ofsted_twice_as_...

It appears, then, that the bias against maintained schools doesn't just affect which schools the ex-SoS visited and which ones he praised, but also affects the comparison of Ofsted judgements between maintained schools and free schools.


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