I am not “happy with failure”, Mr Gove

Janet Downs's picture

Mr Gove hasn’t made the speech* yet, but it’s being heavily promoted. He’s expected to say that opponents of his academy conversion programme are “enemies of promise” who are “happy with failure”. Some local authorities (LAs) are co-operating with him, he will say, but others are not. The latter are described as “ideologues” who are really saying (according to Mr Gove) that “If you're poor, if you're Turkish, if you're Somali, then we don't expect you to succeed. You will always be second class and it's no surprise your schools are second class.”

Mr Gove’s logic has failed him. It does not follow that those who disagree with his policies believe that minority children will not succeed. It does not follow that those who oppose Mr Gove’s academy programme are complacent. And it does not follow that those who argue against his ideas are “enemies of promise” whatever that high-sounding waffle means.

Mr Gove is expected to highlight the London School of Economics (LSE) report which found the academies programme generated "a significant improvement in pupil performance". But what he is not expected to say is that the LSE only looked at a small number of academies which were set up by Labour from under-performing schools. Neither is he expected to point out that the LSE found that the intake of these schools improved after they converted. And I do not expect he will mention that the LSE said more time was needed to assess fully the “academy effect”.

Will Mr Gove mention warnings from the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that while his policies are likely to increase user choice they also need careful monitoring if they are not to increase further the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged children? Will he tell his listeners that international evidence about the link between user choice and educational achievement is mixed? Will he inform them that the OECD is concerned that the English obsession with raw exam grades risks grade inflation, teaching-to-the-test, “gaming” and the neglect of important non-cognitive skills?  Somehow I think not.

This site is full of well-argued rebuttals of Mr Gove’s viewpoint. These show that it is Mr Gove who is the ideologue not his opponents.

*The speech transcript is here.  The above was written before the transcript was available.  It confirms what Michael Gove was 'expected' to say.


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Jake's picture
Wed, 04/01/2012 - 14:29

For those of us who support Gove's reforms and oppose the Luddites on this site, we would of course welcome his closing statment that said inter alia "It’s the same old ideologues pushing the same old ideology of failure and mediocrity. Who sought to cow anyone with a desire for change by accusing them of 'talking down' the achievement of pupils and teachers. The same old ideologues who strove mightily to make the world fit their theories - and damaged generations in the process". Quite.

Given that you appear to have a lot of time on your hands Janet, if I may I have a challenge for you as follows: work through the text of Gove's speech today line by line and abstract out all factual statements therein. List them out and purely on an objective basis, either agree or diagree with each fact, providing URL links/evidence of why he is wrong with any given fact.


Rebecca Hanson's picture
Thu, 05/01/2012 - 21:26

There are very few facts in that speech Jake. Most of it is ludicrously poorly informed and very disturbing opinion.

Why am I a luddite Jake?

It is because I'm someone who believes that if we are going to follow policies which contradict the established theories of the economics of education and the interaction between education and the state, those who are proposing those policies should be able to justify them not just to ordinary newspaper headline readers but also to people who understand what they're talking about? Do you not think policy should be consulted with those who understand the reasons for the status quo and the implications of the change? Do you really think it has enhanced the quality of decision making that the established consultative bodies such as WEF, ACME through which all the representative voices of the different groups in education are heard are not systematically ignored?

By the way I had never in my life spoken out politically about education until Gove came into power. I'd just sat round on discussion forums having conversations like this: https://www.ncetm.org.uk/community/thread/56000. I spoke out despite the problems it has created for me (which have been horrendous) because Micheal Gove's policies are so deeply ignorant and so clearly contradict his stated ideology and intentions for education: https://www.ncetm.org.uk/community/thread/73884

Ros Coffey's picture
Wed, 04/01/2012 - 16:58

I have read the speech and am actually insulted by part of its content. As the Chair of an Inner City primary School with 96% EAL, when I read

"If you’re poor, if you’re Turkish, if you’re Somali, then we don’t expect you to succeed. You will always be second class and it’s no surprise your schools are second class.

I utterly reject that attitude."

He may well utterly reject that attitude, we however, never ever had that attitude. Thank goodness our parents already know that, as well as knowing that we don't care where there children come from but they do know that we will do our very best for their children to ensure that all their talents, skills and abilities are nurtured and celebrated.

I would be interested to know who actually wrote this speech?

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 04/01/2012 - 17:10

Mr Gove has given the speech. It's long - it runs to nine pages. He has much to say - far too much to deal with in one post. So I'll start with autonomy. Mr Gove is right to say that school systems globally benefit from greater autonomy. But he deliberately underestimates the amount of autonomy which all schools enjoy under Local Management of Schools. The OECD found that in 2009, before the Coalition came to power, the UK was among three OECD countries and one partner jurisdiction in having “the greatest autonomy… not only in allocating resources but also in making decisions about curricula and assessments.”


The extra autonomy that Mr Gove trumpets relates only to controlling that small part of the budget which local authorities kept back to pay for legal and administrative work, and services such as education welfare. So in exchange for this portion of the budget academies have to take on extra administrative burdens when their primary focus should be on educating their pupils. That’s why small schools, particularly primaries, shy away from conversion.

Yet Mr Gove says that primary schools can benefit because they’ll be able to join in partnerships with other schools perhaps by being sponsored. He wants them to cast themselves adrift from a local authority harbour and find an uncharted port elsewhere. But Mr Gove admits in his speech that only 18 of the 1194 converters are sponsoring other academies – and two of those started doing so when Ed Balls was Secretary of State. So it appears that “outstanding” converters aren’t particularly willing to help other schools.


Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 04/01/2012 - 17:32

Jake - it does not follow that those who oppose Mr Gove's policies are in favour of "failure and mediocrity".

Mr Gove is right when he says people have accused him of "talking down" achievements. I would go further - he and his supporters have deliberately and relentlessly promoted the idea that the English education system is failing. Yet the PISA results that he endlessly quotes show that English pupils were above the OECD average in science and at the OECD average in reading and maths. In the TIMSS 2007 tests, English pupils outperformed European students in Maths and Science. Mr Gove attended a summit for high-performing education systems in May this year - surely he should have declined if England were as bad as he claims?

And, oh, the irony of his statement about ideologues who strive "mightily to make the world fit their theories." This site has shown again and again how the evidence that Mr Gove cites often doesn't say exactly what he says it says, how he ignores evidence from respected organisations like the OECD when what it says doesn't fit with his preconceptions, and how he brushes aside even his fellow Parliamentarians when they warn him about the possible consequences of the introduction of EBac.

Francis Gilbert's picture
Wed, 04/01/2012 - 18:16

A key point he made was that academies are serving disadvantaged children. Well, the old Labour academies focused upon this, but the new converter academies have, by and large, benefited children in wealthier areas (http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6049283). The Labour Party's academy policy benefited poorer children, Gove's academy policy does not; rather the reverse, it gives to the rich and takes from the poor.

Francis Gilbert's picture
Wed, 04/01/2012 - 18:24

The fact is that Gove's academy policy has descended into shambles; he gave too much money to the first converters, there's real questions about funding for the ones about to come "online", and there's no one to supervise or monitor them properly. There's such disquiet about the policy even among his own supporters that Wilshaw has spoken out, calling for local commissioners (ie local authority bureaucrats) to take back the reins.

Francis Gilbert's picture
Wed, 04/01/2012 - 18:31

I've never read a speech by Gove which is so vituperative; he must be feeling the heat. Perhaps people in government are waking up to the fact that this policy is not all it's cracked up to be?

Itsmotherswork's picture
Wed, 04/01/2012 - 19:01

The LSE report did appear to show that Academies performance improved after conversion. It also appeared to show that after a local school converted to Academy status, the performance of the other community schools 'left behind' also improved. The report remarked on the fact that the intake of Academies improved after conversion, whereas this was not the case for the community schools. One possible conclusion to draw from this is that Academies improve by developing a more EXCLUSIVE intake, whereas community schools improve with a more INCLUSIVE intake and supported by their local authority.
There may be other ways of interpreting the information, which was in any case so narrowly controlled for variables that it's really not easy to assess the applicability of the findings across the range of schools.

I did note that the LSE report observed that the improvements were greatest in the schools for which Academy status meant the biggest increase in 'freedoms' (in other words, schools that had previously been voluntary aided schools, for example, appeared to improve less). I note that those schools were already their own admission authorities and already therefore had greater control over their intake. This finding further supports my inference that being able to exclude certain pupils is one of the 'benefits' of being an Academy.

Adrian Elliott's picture
Wed, 04/01/2012 - 19:10

His comments are going to upset a lot of heads,teachers and governors who are far from being left-wing ideologues .

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said headteachers against academies were "not the 'enemies of promise', but professionals dedicated to improving the lives of young people".

He said: "The keys to school improvement are excellent teaching and leadership and a relentless determination to stamp out failure.

"Many ASCL members have decided that academy status will be the best route to that goal, many others have decided that they can best achieve this as LA [local authority] maintained community schools. What really matters are the outcomes their students achieve rather than the type of school they go to."

My impression is that he is alienating teachers,especially heads, in the way few Secretaries of State have done since John Patten

Natacha Kennedy's picture
Wed, 04/01/2012 - 19:18

@Jake YOU are the luddite for supporting policies which prefer a fragmented, privatised school system which has already been tried, and which has failed miserably in the United States for more than 20 years.

Jake's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 09:29

I stand for greater choice, improvement and equality in our state education system modelled on the 'best in class' from around the world such as the KIPP schools. Unlike the blowhards on the Luddite Schools Network (the vast majority of which who do little apart from take easy cheap shots from the sidelines, spin data to suit their own needs and generally offer zero workable solutions other than 'lets be like Finland') I am a progressive who supports the hard work and efforts of the likes of one of the greatest educational reformers of the 21st century as narrated in this terrific piece:


Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 11:15

Jake - is a puff piece written to flatter a free school proposer the best evidence you can provide? Where is the data and analysis? Where is the rigorous examination of research? And does your source have the same reputation as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development which is respected by Governments worldwide? Can your source's information be rated as highly as that from, say, the Office of National Statistics, the Institute of Fiscal Studies or academic studies done by universities?

I’m not sure that Mr Gove would agree with your idea about the identity of “one of the greatest educational reformers of the 21st century.” He said that the “most important man in English education” is Andreas Schleicher of the OECD.

You will have noticed that I constantly cite the OECD as evidence, yet it is often refuted as “spin”. Funnily enough, those that make this accusation never provide contradictory evidence from any source, never mind one with such a high reputation as the OECD.


Allan Beavis's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 11:51

You comment here as if you are a man of principles. You are not a progressive, but deeply conservative. You are actually more of a coward, too frightened or inhibited to use your real name or identity, hiding behind as assumed name yet quick to deride the honesty, principles and commitment of people who speak and write openly as themselves.

Whatever the merits of KIPP schools, and even on the basis of their being outstanding, 100 good schools in America have not scaled up across the States and they have not improved American education overall. America does averagely, like Britain and many of the other developed Western nations. If successful Charters chains over a 20 year period have not improved American education, then the chances of this model succeeding in Britain are very small.

Jake's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 11:41

Janet - this site does no more than re-cycle the same tiresome and lame rhetoric week in/week out. I do believe your beloved OECD confirmed in its last official league tables that this country is slipping down the league and at the very least stagnating. Which for a whole host of reasons is a shocking indictment of 13 years of Labour rule. So you can spend all your days sticking your head in the sand and spinning data at to why we are in that position but at the end of the day it is Team Gove that is actually trying to reform and improve our standing. The Luddite Schools Network is an irrelavence.

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 13:30

Jake - It’s true that the OECD league tables for 2009 showed a decline in the UK position – I have never denied this. However, the actual scores for English pupils between 2006 and 2009 hardly varied – and this could, as you say, be described as “stagnating”. Nevertheless, it should be remembered that English pupils scored slightly above the OECD average for reading, at the OECD average for maths, and above average for science. It should also be remembered that the OECD has warned that the PISA 2000 figures for the UK were flawed and should not be used for comparison – an injunction that Mr Gove and his supporters ignore.

Even if the 2000 UK figures were correct, the Institute of Education has found that the data can’t be used to claim that UK performance is poor.

Jake – the evidence is below. It is from the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), the OECD and the Department of Quantitative Social Science at the Institute of Education, University of London (IoE). I think these sources carry more weight than a piece of puffery.





Finally, if this site is such an "irrelavence", why do you spend so much time here? If the arguments posted here are "tiresome and lame" then why are do you bother to respond? If you have serious evidence from reputable and respected sources, why do you not post it? That, at least, would contribute to the debate more constructively than name-calling and regurgitating tabloid clichés.

Jake's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 13:45

I spend thankfully minimum time on this site to give you people a reality check from time to time. You are clearly blinded by ideology and so cannot see the wood for the trees. I've flagged the 'serious evidence' in relation to the PISA tables plus much else over the months on this site. Frankly it is a shocking indictment of both you and this site that you consider it acceptable to be no better than average or mid-ranking - that lack of aspiration, that left wing mind set, it really does sum up the Luddite Schools Network very well. You offer no solutions.

Howard's picture
Wed, 04/01/2012 - 19:51

While Janet is busy with the chalenge you set her, could you, for the sake of balance, go through Gove's speech providing URL links/evidence of why he is right with any given fact?

Ideologue's picture
Wed, 04/01/2012 - 20:36

Don't you send your kids to a private school Fran? Right on!

Allan Beavis's picture
Wed, 04/01/2012 - 21:17

I think rhetoric like this - attack and completely misrepresent and distort the opposition's case ("you are happy with failure") in order to create a polemical argument to mask the fact that you are hiding your true intentions or your incompetence - is borne of fear. As more and more people become aware of the potential inequalities, corrupt practices and private company influence in state education, they are questioning the motives of these so called "reforms" and the government is unable to defend itself rationally or honestly.

This is talking tough and going on the offensive when your arguments and your policies are running out of steam. The attack on the teachers profession is particularly unpleasant and absolutely mimics the way the American pro-"reform" lobby behave in their relentless implementation of Charter Schools. Opponents here and there fall silent or offer up feeble arguments when they presented with evidence that

i) Charters have failed to improve standards in America (average, like ours)
ii) Finland offer choice but the options are the same and teachers are highly trained and revered.

The New Schools Network have consistently lied about the success of Charters, as well as "demand" for Free Schools and Academies and supporters of the government say we cannot emulate Finland in any way because "we have no private schools" and "Finland is a small country". Like Gove, they are happy to continue to follow a policy that has ruined American education. If anyone is the enemy of school improvement, it is Gove, his handmaidens and his eunuchs.

Jake's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 09:37

Butthead - are you smelling 'the fear' again as you so like to do? Good to see there is never anything polemic in your own rants. It must be hard being so perfect and having all the answers but then no one of any interest giving a rats arse about anything you actually say. Keep the red flag flying brother and whatever you do dont let that halo slip.

Janet Lallysmith's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 09:51

Please can you stop the 'Butthead' references, Jake. It's really unpleasant and just makes you look a bit like you can't think of any other 'joke'.

Jake's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 10:06

Marigold, in the words of our Dear Leader 'calm down dear'. Its only a little in-joke between Butthead and myself. He consistently refers to myself by another name so I am replying in kind. Repetition is the point based on his own equally repetitive jibes at me. And by his own admission I am not the first (and probably not the last) to address him so. Which says it all really.

Allan Beavis's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 11:55

Marigold -

Beavis and Butthead are two different characters! I'm not sure Jake and Jon are.

Janet Lallysmith's picture
Wed, 04/01/2012 - 23:04

Indeed. And who does actually think 'if you're poor .........schools are second class'.

I've been around schools and parents for many years and have never come across anyone expressing remotely that point of view.

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 05/01/2012 - 08:30

A particularly extraordinary statement early in the speech is about City Technology Colleges (CTCs). Mr Gove says the “seeds” of his reforms were sown in 1988 when CTCs were set up. He says these schools allowed head teachers to use “their new-found freedoms”. But Mr Gove forgets a major piece of legislation passed by a previous Conservative government also in 1988. The Education Reform Act removed powers from local authorities and delegated them to schools: the school governing body became “the key body responsible for the decisions of the school, with the head teacher as the administrator” (see appendix for functions retained by LAs). In other words, all schools gained considerable freedoms following the 1988 Act.

Mr Gove praised CTCs saying that they “continue to achieve great results”. What he didn’t say is that there are only three of the original fifteen CTCs left in existence. Twelve of the CTCs were converted to academies before 2008/9 when Labour was in power. Remember, Labour’s academy programme only targeted schools deemed to be “facing challenging circumstances” – so these CTCs must have been regarded by the then Government as underperforming.

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/search/index.html?newquery=social+trends+41 (choose Education and Training).



Appendix: The Education Reform Act 1988 outlined the main functions to be retained by local education authorities: “pay, tax and superannuation administration; inspection of, and advice on, the quality of provision provided and the standards reached; the provision of career, educational, psychological and welfare services; technical support and financial, legal and medical advice; audit (this is to be an especially important function for monitoring the performance of schools); payment of rents and rates; capital expenditure; administration of central government grants; and home-to-school transport. Schools may choose whether to have delegated to them the functions of school meals, structural maintenance, and insurance.”


Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 05/01/2012 - 15:43

Mr Gove, as I’ve said above, stressed the “critical role of autonomy as a driver of high educational standards”. I have shown above how UK schools already had this autonomy following the 1988 Education Reform Act. There are times in his speech when Mr Gove conflates autonomy with competition. They are not the same thing but Mr Gove speaks as if they were. Yet the OECD* found that competition between schools did not necessarily raise educational achievement – the evidence about the effect of user choice and results was mixed. Mr Gove tried to deflect criticism that a “greater reliance on choice… can lead to greater segregation of students". But, the OECD* warned that the academy conversion/free school programme may do exactly that. It suggested that the policy would need careful monitoring to ensure fair access for disadvantaged pupils.

*OECD Economic Surveys UK 2011. Not available freely on the internet but details of how to obtain a copy are here: http://www.oecd.org/document/38/0,3746,en_2649_34569_47283558_1_1_1_1,00...

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 05/01/2012 - 17:20

In a particularly garbled section of the speech, Mr Gove claimed that “cross-country patterns suggest that a larger share of privately operated schools is not only related to a higher performance level, but also to a substantially lower dependence of student achievement on socioeconomic status – as long as all schools are publicly financed”.

The OECD makes a distinction between schools which are privately run (which can be either privately funded or publicly funded) and those schools which are publicly funded and publicly run (English community schools).

Mr Gove says that privately run schools are more equitable as long as they are publicly funded, and the more of them, the better. However, only six of the 62 education systems surveyed by the OECD had more than 50% of schools privately run but publicly funded. And the evidence about the effect of these privately run, publicly funded schools on educational achievement is mixed when judged against PISA 2009 – two of the six were above the OECD average in reading, maths and science while two were below the OECD average in all three subjects.

OECD found that on average across OECD countries, privately managed schools had a performance advantage of 30 score points on the PISA reading scale (in the UK this was 62 points). However, when socio-economic background of students and schools was accounted for, public (ie publicly funded and publicly run) schools had a slight advantage of 7 points (in the UK this was 20 score points). In other words, UK public schools were outperforming private schools when consideration was given to the context.



Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 05/01/2012 - 17:45

Mr Gove goes on: "every school has the opportunity to take complete control of its budget, curriculum and staffing by applying to be an academy."

Firstly, the budget. As I've explained above, academies gain the small portion of the overall budget which was retained by local authorities in return for shouldering considerable administrative, financial and legal burdens. A school's focus should be on educating its pupils not poring over paperwork.

Secondly, the curriculum. If being able to escape from the National Curriculum was so advantageous, Mr Gove could accomplish this at no cost by announcing that all schools can opt out. Why ask them to become academies? In any case, Mr Gove has made it clear that he expects schools to follow the new national curriculum. The longer timescale for its introduction will, Mr Gove says, give "schools more time to prepare for a radically different and more rigorous approach." Why give them more time to prepare for its implementation if academies, which he expects to be in the majority, can opt out?

Third - staffing. Schools already have control over recruitment. LAs employ the teachers in community schools but are allowed no role in the recruitment process. It's true that academies can set their own pay levels but the public may not be so pleased when they realise that taxpayers' money is being used to pay for teachers' private medical care as is the case with the Harris chain. Neither will parents be happy if teachers are sacked because an academy faces budget problems as in the Mediacity Oasis Academy in Salford.





Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 11:40

In the speech Mr Gove repeated his claim that academies have "longer school days; better paid teachers; remedial classes: more personalised learning; improved discipline; innovative curricula". Five out of these six qualities are not confined to academies. In only one case, better paid teachers, can the claim be upheld by evidence: the average gross salary of full-time regular qualified classroom teachers in academies was £1,000 more than in other schools.


Of course, the following might just be isolated incidents, but academies are not free of discipline problems:




Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 14:27

Still plodding through the speech. Mr Gove says that the rate of improvement in the number of pupils achieving 5+ GCSEs A*-C including Maths and English in the 166 sponsored academies with results in both 2010 and 2011 was “double that of maintained schools”. What Mr Gove neglects to say is that these academies were established from underperforming schools therefore any rate of improvement is measured from a lower base. If the number of pupils gaining 5+ GCSEs A*-C including Maths and English in Rise-from-the-Ashes Academy rose from 20% to 40% this is a larger rate of improvement than Established Community School whose score rose from 60% to 65%.

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 15:14

Jake – You say above that this site does not offer solutions. Below are links to a few of the threads on this site that do suggest solutions. These include discussions about inclusion; how to overcome socio-economic disadvantage; the importance of good heads, teachers, governors and supportive parents; allowing teachers to get on with the job instead of bombarding them with endless innovations; co-operation, and finally, lessons from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). The list below is only a selection – there are more – but these give a flavour of the variety of debate here.

You say you’ve flagged up “serious evidence”. I think you may need to remind me. Would this be your carefully considered remarks such as “utter drivel”, “loony left ranting”, “deluded gibberish” and “you cant polish a turd”. Only rarely do you include any links to evidence. Unfortunately, the evidence often turns out to be someone’s opinion which just happens to coincide with yours.








Jake's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 15:31

Incredible. You and others on this site actually believe that you are the only ones interested in "inclusion; how to overcome socio-economic disadvantage; the importance of good heads, teachers, governors and supportive parents; allowing teachers to get on with the job instead of bombarding them with endless innovations". Frankly I could not have summed up Gove's reforms better if I tried. You then have the nerve to write "the evidence often turns out to be someone’s opinion which just happens to coincide with yours." How are the PISA tables 'someones opinion' for example. How are the metrics on KIPP schools 'someones opinion'? But oh no, we cant talk about KIPP school performance because they actually disprove what you are saying so it doesnt count. You almost couldnt make it up.

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 16:01

Jake - you said this site did not offer solutions. I gave links to threads on this site that did discuss possible solutions. It does not follow that because I gave links to these threads that I and others believe that we are the only ones interested in these things.

It also does not follow that because I said your "evidence" turns out to be someone's opinion that I am saying that the PISA tables are opinion. They are not (see my post above on 5/1/12 at 5.20pm in which I use them as evidence). And as far as US charter schools are concerned: the LSE report into Academies looked at the evidence about US Charter schools. It said, “This literature is not without controversy. Recent, typically small scale, experimental evaluations of charters in particular US cities (Boston and New York) find positive impacts on educational achievement… Wider coverage non-experimental evaluations produce more mixed results (CREDO, 2009).

Note: I have provided the link to the evidence:


Allan Beavis's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 16:05

Jon -

KIPP have about 100 schools throughout the US and is just one out of many education chains, teaching a small percentage of American students. They are also fiscally advantaged to a degree that sets it apart from most other charter competitors and regular schools. The perceived success of KIPP schools have not been scaled up nor has their existence helped to drive up standards in neighbouring schools, whether charter or any other type. The existence of KIPP schools has not meant that American education overall has improved over the 20 years that Charter schools have been in existence. Since KIPP is unique in its fiscal advantages, it has not scaled up in America and has not contributed to improving standards overall in the States. There is therefore no reason whatsoever to believe that it would scale up in Britain or that it can be applied to all schools, especially with the swingeing cuts, including 60% cut in capital to schools.

The Charter model has failed, despite isolated success stories that have benefited a small number of children. It is incredible that the coalition has opted to import a failed and expensive model into Britain, justifying it by making entirely fallacious claims about Charter success when the reality is that American education reforms, which has cost billions, have left American schools in the middle of world rankings. KIPP is not the whole of American reform and KIPP has not transformed American education.

Jake's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 16:11

Butthead -

You have previously made the assertion that KIPP is 'fiscally advantaged' which I have disproved elsewhere on this site. Your statement is based on a discredited research report which was not comparing 'like for like' metrics.

Furthermore, to compare the States with the UK as a whole is not viable in the same way that it is not viable to compare Swden with the UK. What is credible however it to look at individual models such as KIPP that do work and can be adapted and imported into this country.

Allan Beavis's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 16:20

Jon -

Are you now saying that KIPP is not in receipt of a vast amount of philanthropic funds? This is not in dispute. It is a fact. You have disproved nothing.

You still seem unable to grasp the simple concept that the individual model of KIPP may have accounted for its own success but that success has not been able to be scaled up and implemented across the whole of America and American schools. Since the American KIPP model has not been applied across America, there is no reason to believe that it can be applied in the UK.

Jake's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 16:55

Butthead -

This was my rebuttal to your previous spin on KIPP funding. Please spare me/all of us from going over old ground. Anyone who has the will to live can re-read the entire thread via the link below if they so choose:


It beggars belief that you seek to compare the USA with England. That is so lame I dont even know where to start with that one. Apart from a vaguely shared language what other similarties are there?

Jake's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 17:27

Butthead -

As usual with you, lose the argument so attack the person. And as its you, one also gets a healthy dose of paranoia thrown in.

Allan Beavis's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 17:13

Jon -

But this wasn't a rebuttal. All you did here was provide a cut and paste rebuttal from KIPP which argues that it is less financially advantageous than originally alleged by Miron. This still means that it is seriously more advantaged than most other charter schools competitors and regular schools and is in receipt of a serious amount of philanthropic funds. You still have not provided evidence as to how or why the Charter, or even the KIPP model, should be adopted and how it can be scaled up in the UK when it has proved a failure in America. I am not comparing UK to America - it is you that is attempting to argue that one American charter chain can be imported here to the benefit of the whole of the British system.

I don't know what is more lame, really. You're inability to grasp and argue concepts, your lack of principles as shown by your cowardice - too frightened or inhibited to use your real name or identity, hiding behind an assumed name, yet quick to deride the honesty, principles and commitment of people who speak and write openly as themselves.

Allan Beavis's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 17:46

Jon -

But I have not lost the argument and you are still unable to prove your point. Your attitude and your cowardice say a lot more about you than me.

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 15:41

Mr Gove claimed in his speech that the Academies programme “as a whole is raising standards”. He quotes from the London School of Economics (LSE) “landmark assessment” which showed that academy conversion resulted in an improved pupil performance both in the academies and in neighbouring schools. Mr Gove said the improvement was not due to academies “scooping up middle-class pupils”. But the LSE report does not mention social class. It does, however, consider higher ability pupils. The researchers found that “Such schools are attracting and admitting higher ability pupils once they convert to academy status.” The researchers found that the greatest improvement was found in the early academies. More time was needed to assess whether the later academies would see the same progress although the researchers felt there was scope for them to do so.

It should be remembered that all of these early academies were formerly under-performing. Coalition academies are not. The rate of improvement measure (which is contentious in any case) cannot continue to be as high. And Mr Gove has yet to explain how the “academy effect” will work when all schools are academies.


Jake's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 15:53

I think you have answered your own point Janet? Pre-academy conversion, the schools were 'under performing'. I think that is the whole point. The main reason the successful chains such as Harris and ARK work is the 'no excuses' model they employ. A recent TES article on this model confirmed this to be the case. The teaching model benefits all pupils not just those of raised ability.

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 16:50

Jake - it is indeed the whole point that schools which converted under Labour were under-performing. Those that have improved have shown a larger rate of improvement than schools that were not under-performing because the former's rate of improvement is measured from a lower base. In his speech, Mr Gove boasted about this high rate of improvement but he has not grasped a simple mathematical concept. If you start off from a low base and improve then your rate of improvement is likely to be higher than someone who starts off from a higher base. See my post above, 6/01/12, 2.27pm, for an example.

You cite a TES article about ARK and "no excuses". Unfortunately, as usual, you provide no link. However, "no excuses" on its own is not enough. It's like saying all that is needed is a smart uniform. It is likely that all successful schools (successful in its widest sense) employ similar strategies whether they are academies or not. The head of a Liverpool academy told TES how he turned his school around. The strategies he gave are not confined to academies. They included:

1 Don't do things that aren't going to make a difference to children.
2 Create "an intensely personalised curriculum for those children who need it.
3 Allow such pupils to build a strong relationship whith a particular teacher.
4 Take on specialist staff to cover specific areas.
5 Use data on pupils' previous attainment and specific background to tailor teaching and learning to pupils' needs.
6 Build self esteem of pupils.
7 Create a house system to allow pupils to complete for prizes based on behaviour among other things.
8 Build a culture of aspiration.
9 "Have fun".

The head said that although his school is labelled an academy, he considers it to be a community school. And there are thousands of non-academy community schools doing these things as well as academies. Something that Mr Gove should recognise.

It is not necessary to become an academy and take on all the extra burdens that this entails in order to be a successful school. And some schools that have taken on these heavy responsibilities have not been successful (as judged by Mr Gove's preferred benchmark measure). See my post 6/01/12, 3.50pm.


Jake's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 17:19

The TES article is not available online as far as I know. For those who subscribe you can read the piece in the 11 Nov issue. I dont think you actually understand what it comprises if you make statements such as "it’s like saying all that is needed is a smart uniform". Which is why the TES article is headed up "More than ties, shoe and hair". There is more to it than just the "soulless impostion of petty rules on inner city children". The 'no excuses' model is not the only educational philosphy but when done well it gets results. So it is wrong to generalise with sweeping statements on the academy model when some of them are producing exceptional results. Like KIPP, these are the chains that should be emulated. And its just absurd to say there must be a tail off in the rate of improvement. ARK for example betters its results most years on point improvement across its academies and they are working in very tough inner city areas.

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 17:49

Jake - you are correct. The article isn't available on line but it would have been helpful if you had said that. "As far as I know" isn't good enough. And you are right, the "no excuses" policy is not the only educational philosophy. That's why I gave evidence of one head teacher who listed his philosophy in the TES (with link).

I should be grateful if you could let me know how I have generalised and made a sweeping statement about the "academy model". As far as I'm aware there isn't one "academy model" which lays down how schools should teach. After all, they're supposed to be free of such imposition. There is, however, an academy conversion programme which is being held up as the only way by which schools can improve their results. This is nonsense because there are successful non-academy schools and unsuccessful academies.

Of course the rate of improvement will tail off as more successful schools become academies. The rate of improvement which Mr Gove quotes is one which is being achieved by academies which started at a low base. The more successful schools will have their improvement measured from a higher base. The rate of improvement of a school which raises its GCSE A*-C from 85% - 90% is smaller than a school which raises its GCSE A*-C from 20% to 40%. The latter has doubled its score but the more successful school hasn't.

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 15:50

And Mr Gove also forgot to mention that not all academies achieve good results. At least 40 of the secondary schools whose pupils achieved less than 32% pass rate for 5 GCSEs A*-C in 2010 were academies. There may be good reasons for this – some still had a high Contextual Value Added score despite having poor GCSE results (this also applied to non-academy below-floor schools). Others, like Priory Witham Academy in Lincolnshire, are in selective areas and Priory Witham would, therefore, be a secondary modern in all but name.

However, according to Mr Gove, below-floor schools are failures. “No Excuses”, is his mantra. He must, therefore, judge below-floor academies in the same way as below-floor schools.


Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 17:14

Below is a link to a recording of Mr Gove making the speech at Haberdasher's Aske's, Hatcham. It's only a snippet - not the whole thing. The pupils don't look very inspired and if they had to sit through the whole nine pages then they have my sympathy.


Leonard James's picture
Sat, 07/01/2012 - 08:17

I would agree that politicians using schools to further their politics is undesirable. However your implication that something isn't worth hearing because children are uninspired by it actually a cause of some of the problems in education today. At best this is a cheap shot on your part.

Janet Lallysmith's picture
Sat, 07/01/2012 - 08:46

And Gove's speech - in an academy - wasn't a cheap shot?

If Gove wasn't so intent on positioning himself as the only person who knows anything about how to improve education, it wouldn't be funny.

The speech didn't actually address the pupils in the room at all - why on earth should they be inspired by something so irrelevant to them?


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