Clegg: Gove’s out-of-control. DfE source: Clegg’s lying

Janet Downs's picture
The New Year kicks off with a spat between Deputy PM, Nick Clegg, and Education Secretary, Michael Gove, according to the Mail.

Clegg claims the Deputy PM’s Office has to deal with problems caused by an out-of-control Michael Gove.  According to the Mail, a Department for Education (DfE) “source” accused Clegg of mendacity:

“Clegg is lying again, just as he did on tuition fees.  We have been able to transform schools by keeping him out of it. He’s annoyed because he doesn’t like the fact that we are improving kids’ chances in life and it’s got nothing to do with him or his party.”

It is, of course, true that Clegg did a U-turn on tuition fees and the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA).  But what is extraordinary about this accusation is the intemperate language.  It’s not usual for civil servants to publicly attack ministers let alone call them liars.  And then there’s the statement that “we” are transforming schools and implying that Government education reforms are a good thing.

But there have been criticisms including:

1         The OECD warned in 2011 there was too much emphasis on exam results in England.  That was before Gove made his ill-thought-out foray into exam reform at 16+ when most of the developed world has moved to graduation at 18.

2         The CBI warned Gove school leaders were not in tune with his reforms.

3         The OECD warned three years ago the academies and free school programme would need careful monitoring if it were not to have a negative impact on already disadvantaged children.  Evidence so far shows free schools tend to have fewer pupils eligible for free schools meals (FSM) than would be expected given their location while the Academies Commission (see faq above) expressed concerns about admission criteria in some academies.

4         An OECD report on PISA 2012 showed no relationship between increasing school choice and student performance.

5         The same report said its cautious findings chimed with other research showing increased competition between schools was related to greater segregation which “may have adverse consequences for equity in learning opportunities and outcomes”.

6         The Public Accounts Committee wondered if the DfE understood value for money.

7         Oxford University head of admissions said proposed exam changes could “wreck” education.

The Academies Commission (2013) noted several downsides to this transformation (see faq above).  We are approaching the first anniversary of the Commission’s report but the Government has yet to respond.

This site regularly spikes DfE claims whether it’s about sponsored academies, teenagers’ knowledge of history, visiting phantom schools or the supposed superiority of free schools.  Myths peddled by the DfE are debunked.  But DfE “sources” continue to regurgitate the same unproven generalisations.

In the run up to the 2015 election, perhaps we can expect these robotic announcements to be accompanied with accusations of “lying”.

CORRECTION 13.25  The above post has been amended to correct two grammatical errors.  Sloppy proof reading - sorry.
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Paul East's picture
Fri, 29/01/2016 - 22:43

With hindsight, was this a Cummings-inspired remark?

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