Sometime I'm flabbergasted when I read the latest pronouncements from Michael Gove in the news
Try this one : Gove warns over children growing up in 'chaotic homes'
It starts off relatively promising, Michael Gove responding to a question from a Labour MP, highlighting the issues of some children coming to school in reception, already way behind their peers, due to the deprivation that thiey've already endured in their communities and families.
I know from experience that there are indeed families that are chaotic, that do have massive input from mutliple agencies trying to help them, and that it's very difficult to challenge the self-fulfilling prophecy that children from those backgrounds will go on to fail in school and in society. Yet challenge it we must - and Michael Gove agrees.
How will he meet that challenge though ? - well for Mr Gove it appears that their are a few things we can do. First we must stigmatise the primary schools that cater for those children :
"there are many secondary schools doing a good job which are inherently impeded by the quality of the education offered in primary schools"
Really ? Strange, I'd never noticed that myself. As a matter of fact, if pushed, I'd have to say that I generally find the quality of primary education to be better than that generally in secondary schools. Just my subjective opinion of course - but maybe that's OK, because there doesn't seem to be any evidence that Mr Gove is providing to back up his claims. It seems to be his own subjective opnion.
Next let's stigmatise the children themselves for having the audacity to come from a less privileged background than his own :
" there are significant numbers of children who, because of their home environment arrive at school simply incapable of learning."
Did you catch that ? - "incapable of learning" ?
. Well if Mr Gove had any knowledge of the history of the education of children with special educational needs in the UK he would know that the idea that any child is incapable of learning, is very muich discredited, and in fact not recognised in law - The 1970, 1981 and 1996 Education Acts making this clear. Quite how he would expect any teacher to demonstrate that a child incapable of learning was making progress in the classroom is also something of a mystery.
But hey ho - he's the Secretary of State, so what do I know ?
But finally let's get down to brass tacks - because as he points out "there are a group of children for whom the state has to intervene because they will grow up in circumstances so chaotic that it's not just a case that they are neglected, it is the case that they are actively harmed by the failure to be in a nurturing environment where their brain can develop and where they can learn the sorts of habits which allow them to not just succeed academically at school but are effectively socialised."
Quite right - and he's right to point it out - so what's the biggest weapon in our armoury on the way to achieving that ?
"We need to move even faster, extending the frontiers of opportunity, providing more excellent school places for more children than ever before.
I am determined that we concentrate our efforts particularly on the children in greatest need - those in the weakest schools - overwhelmingly in the most disadvantaged areas."
Mr Gove said there were hundreds of under-performing primary schools and said he would be writing to MPs asking them to support his plans to turn poor primaries into academies."
Yes that's right, he's going to solve all the problems of chaotic families by turning all the primary schools into academies.
Or maybe he could get Harry Potter in to cast a spell and sort things out for him.
Or maybe he should realise that just as there are no such things as magic spells, Academies are also NOT magic solutions.