Did Michael Gove call you this morning?

Henry Stewart's picture

(Scroll down for the Twitter responses)

We know the Secretary of State has a fertile imagination. My colleague Janet Downs has revealed how he claimed to visit schools that don't actually exist and quoted surveys which had not taken place. And now it seems he could be having conversations with teachers that only take place in his head.

Today on the Andy Marr show, asked about his new disciplinary advice, he defended it on the basis that "the teachers I've been talking to today" agreed with him. He gave the impression that he'd been in a school, or another place where teachers gather, and got positive feedback.

But the interview took place live at just after 9.30am on a Sunday morning. Who were these teachers he talked to very early on a Sunday morning? I have submitted an FOI request to the Department for Education asking how many teachers he'd talked to and whether he has a ready-made panel of teachers he calls? Perhaps the DfE operates a dial-a-teacher service to allow him to sample opinion?

It is possible that, as he was being whisked to the BBC studio in a taxi, Michael Gove was calls to teachers to find their views on his latest advice. Though he would also have had to send them details, as the advice was only issued this morning - and was too late for the morning papers. If this did happen (what are the chances?) it would presumably be the teachers he knows well and are likely to agree with him - certainly not a representative sample.

Or, more likely, he didn't talk to any actual teachers. Instead he had imaginary chats in his head, with what he hoped a teacher would say if he'd talked to them. So, journalists, if Michael Gove ever tells you he's talked to teachers and found they agree with him: ask him who, when and where. And whether it was a real teacher, or an imaginary one inside his head.

Did you talk to Michael Gove this morning?

I did put out a tweet to find the teachers that Michael Gove talked to. Despite over a hundred retweets, and reaching an audience in the hundreds of thousands, no teacher has yet said that they got a call from Michael. But I did get some very entertaining responses:


  1. @localschools_uk he's often on the phone asking for this and that, but today, nada!


  2. @localschools_uk @schooltruth Nah. I was in detention, had to write lines and stuff. And no one rang house, coz mum's gone on cheap holiday.


  3. @localschools_uk Clearly the voices that are constantly talking nonsense in his head are at it again.


  4. @localschools_uk ones who have been up all night marking because they love work that much #deranged


  5. @localschools_uk no, not me. And I've checked my voicemail AND the landline.


  6. @localschools_uk @TeacherROAR I bet you there is one somewhere. Mind you he didn’t say they were state school teachers did he?


  7. @localschools_uk he came to me during the night as the ghost of Christmas past #Gove #marr good bedfellows


  8. @localschools_uk Yes, he burbled something. And I replied,Whatever it is, Michael, I disagree.


  9. @localschools_uk Not me, and I was available in Central London right up to 2.30am


  10. @localschools_uk it was his driver on the way to the studio, remember anyone can be a teacher no quals necessary.


  11. @localschools_uk He probably talked to those teachers that teach at those schools #Gove likes that don't exist.


  12. @localschools_uk @antiacademies I am a retired teacher , parent , grandparent , not a fan of gove - so it was'nt me !!


  13. @localschools_uk they are just voices in his head, his former teachers, that make him say these things.


  14. @localschools_uk @Miss_Yelland ugh, can you imagine? The first person you speak to in the morning is Gove. That much swearing that early?


  15. @localschools_uk @schooltruth no I don't seem to be on his phone list perhaps he just rings Eton


  16. @localschools_uk @schooltruth no, like everything else he made it up on one of his trips to LaLa land.


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Jane Eades's picture
Sun, 02/02/2014 - 17:41

I suspect that it was Katharine Birbalsingh he spoke to, since she was also interviewed about his wonderful ideas. I'm sure they have each other on speed dial. Given Ms Birbalsingh's dismissive attitude towards some of her students in her book and her exposure of them at the Tory Party conference, I really don't think that she is an example to us.

Henry Stewart's picture
Sun, 02/02/2014 - 18:20

Ha! Could be. Though I don't think "Do teachers agree with me? I've talked to Katherine Birbalsingh and she does" has the same ring as "the teachers [plural] I've tlaked to today agree with me".

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 03/02/2014 - 09:13

Perhaps they're the teachers on the database set up to list heads who supported Gove's policies and would become advocates for his ideas. You know, the ones whose schools converted to academies at lightning speed while the ink of the Academies Act was still drying; the ones who made videos saying how wonderful it was to escape LA "control"; the "fantastic" ones who've been repeatedly promoted in Gove speeches (the Seven Samurai et al)...

Or, as Jane says above, the one who said how she really, really cared about her pupils but publicly mocked one of them at a Tory conference to the raucous delight of all present....

Or those who feed Gove little titbits about Mr Men lessons...


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