Gove admits Tory government could move towards full profit-making from state schools at the Leveson Inquiry

Allan Beavis's picture
During questioning at the Leveson Inquiry today, Michael Gove gave the strongest indication yet that a Tory government would let schools be run for profit. It is unclear whether this has not yet been rolled out because public opinion is opposed to it, as shown by this Populus poll or whether Nick Clegg had inconveniently broken ranks and reassured the nation last September - “no to running schools for a profit, not in our state-funded education sector." Perhaps Gove is planning to hand out the contracts for profit when the Tories manage to get the Lib Dem millstone off their neck at the next general election, if they manage to win it outright?

Or perhaps he will continue to talk up the Free School success in the hope that bombast and rhetoric will convince a sceptical electorate that privatising state schools will contribute to raising standards. The Guardian quotes him at the Inquiry saying that “it's important to recognise that the free schools movement is succeeding without that element”. Some might say this claim is premature, since no results have been published. Perhaps Gove’s definition of school success is one that abides by his ideology and little else? Free Schools are certainly unsuccessful if dividing communities and polarising opinion are the benchmark.

Gove defends his ex-employer Rupert Murdoch and this discredited empire, saying that his failed bid to set up Free Schools and Academies in London was driven for purely philanthropic reasons but I wonder how many people – even those well outside the Westminster Village – reconcile Murdoch and his thirst for profit, political control and destroying the reputation and lives of many innocent people – celebrity or ordinary – with the notion of charity and doing good for no benefit whatsoever?

It is quite well documented that philanthropists in the United States have used their dollars to influence education policy decisions and that their opinion has been taken far more seriously than that of educators. Charter Schools and “Philanthropy” go hand in hand and this union has created a new set of problems for publicly funded education, not least the failure of Charter Schools to raise standards across the board or for the poorest. The pro Reform lobby cite the example of New Orleans, which is, allegedly, doing well but the state of education in the rest of Mississipi remains poor.

We have recently heard so much of the benefits of highly trained teachers in Finland as being one of the components of Finland’s remarkable success but here is our Education Secretary welcoming non qualified teachers into his new schools for which he is already claiming “success”.

Is Murdoch’s interests in publicly funded schools merely “philanthropic”? Can a leopard change its spots? It’s a good job for Gove that the Murdoch Free School and the Murdoch Academy didn’t materialise or the Levenson Inquiry might have been questioning him about impartiality as well as financial and political paybacks to the Conservative coffers a few days before they challenge Jeremy Hunt and his alleged backing of the BSkyB bid.
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Rebecca Hanson's picture
Tue, 29/05/2012 - 20:39

Here's a link to the video from today:
The bit most relevant to this post is at around 66 minutes.

I'm particularly interested in where on earth Michael Gove's belief that his free market policies would improve education came from given that they contradict the evidence and the theory of the economics of state education. We get some insight into how his belief in this might have been endorsed at 30, 32 and 36 minutes

mike's picture
Wed, 06/06/2012 - 12:18

..and I read somewhere, wish I could remember where, that free schools in 2011 accounted for 0.001% of the provision but took 0.26% of the budget.

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 06/06/2012 - 12:57

mike - the TES (1 June 2012) had an article about how Gove was moving towards for-profit schools. It said that £337 million had been spent on free schools up to April 2012.

Allan Beavis's picture
Tue, 29/05/2012 - 22:49

Gove also used his appearance at the Leveson Inquiry to trumpet on about not stifling press freedom as if the Inquiry itself had departed away from examining the often dubious co-dependence of politicians and media.

If Gove is really so intent on freedom of speech, why does he not publish his emails, especially those he sent through private emails and his wife's account? And why did his special adviser tell the DfE not to comply with FoI requests?

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 31/05/2012 - 12:10

Mr Gove flattered certain newspaper editors (to keep them on-side) and praised the intelligence of the public who were, he said, shrewd enough to see through spin. This makes it appear as if his words are reliable and honest - how could the public possibly doubt the utterances of someone who recognises that the public are so discerning that they can see through political spin? To mistrust his words would be to doubt his judgement - and that would mean doubting his judgement about the perceptiveness of the public.

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 31/05/2012 - 12:19

Mr Gove robustly defended the freedom of the press. He invoked Orwell - free speech, if it meant anything at all, meant offending some people at some time. But Gove fundamentally misunderstands free speech. He praised journalists who could present a case forcefully and with "elan". This implies that style trumps substance - it doesn't matter what view is being presented just as long as it is done with panache or passion. Free speech is essential for getting at the truth - that's why dictators and repressive regimes stifle it. But free speech carries with it the obligation to tell the truth - free speech is not the freedom to distort, misrepresent and lie, no matter how elegantly it is expressed or how robustly it is delivered.

tim bidie's picture
Sat, 09/06/2012 - 06:14

In every walk of life there are commercial organisations doing untold good, whilst making profits that are reinvested to improve service.

Why should schools be any different?

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