‘Twas brillig, and the tweeting Gove…’
It’s not every day I look at Michael Gove’s (@michaelgove) twitter feed. Today was the first time. And it was highly entertaining. It appears Gove spends an inordinate amount of time trawling through media comments to find those comparing him to genitals or reptiles. He then retweets them.
What was it that drew me to Gove’s tweets? It was his answers to a tweet from Laura McInerney (@miss_mcinerney), editor of Schools Week, on 23 February 2017, commenting on Gove’s ‘confession’ reported in the I:
‘I am so bored of this “mea culpa” trope from Gove. Just make better decisions, Michael. It’s what we pay you for.’
Gove fired off several tweets in response. It’s worth looking at his claims in detail.
1 1.8 million more children in good or outstanding schools. The proportion of good or better schools has risen but this is mainly in the primary sector where there are fewer academies. Improvement in the heavily-academized secondary phase has been much slower.
2 Grade inflation ended. There was no firm evidence to support claims of grade inflation when Gove embarked on his hasty exam reforms. In any case, it will be difficult to compare new GCSEs with old ones. If they are more difficult, as claimed, we can expect to see more young people ‘failing’ to achieve ‘good’ GCSEs.
3 Pupil premium embedded. A LibDem idea.
4 Teach First massively expanded. Teach First has the highest drop-out rate three years after qualification.
5 Frontline established. It’s too soon to evaluate Frontline as a way of encouraging graduates to enter and remain in social work.
6 Schools built more cheaply. It’s true free schools tend to be set up more cheaply than new-build schools because they often use redundant buildings. But money spent on acquiring land for free schools has attracted criticism from the National Audit Office
7 Teacher quality on an upward trend. Gove thinks teaching is a craft best learnt on-the-job. Measuring teacher quality by standard of degree may not be a reliable assessment of teacher quality. High-quality teacher education is essential.
8 Bogus vocational equivalence ended. Correct. This scam was used more by academies than other secondary schools. Much feted academy improvement disappeared when equivalent exams were stripped out.
9 Working class children given new opportunities… more doing maths, physics, chemistry, biology, history, geography and languages. Gove appears to be equating ‘working class’ with pupils on free school meals. The UK Statistics Authority said it was wrong to assume such pupils are working class.
10 Funding protected in real terms. Education in England is facing a funding crisis. Gove, like Gibb, prefers to ignore this.
UK Education Matters (@SchoolDuggery) tweeted that Laura’s comment might have touched a nerve. Gove’s rapid trotting-out of self-attributed achievements suggests this might be the case.