Is Michael Gove systematically dismantling state education in England?
I’m not sure.
To believe so presumes competence, intention and strategy on his part. Most of what I observe is an ill-informed sociopath flapping about at seemingly-random educational targets.
See what you think by looking at these BBC News stories since the beginning of the calendar year:
- Michael Gove: Academy school critics ‘happy with failure’ (4 January 2012)
- New yacht for Queen’s jubilee, suggests Michael Gove (16 January 2012)
- Michael Gove labels academy opponents ‘Trots’ (31 January 2012)
- Most GCSE equivalents axed from school league tables (31 January 2012)
- University-led secondary PGCEs face uncertain future (8 February 2012)
- Gove tells head teachers school reforms need to be accelerated (24 March 2012)
- Michael Gove wants universities to create new A-levels (3 April 2012)
- U-turn signalled over no-notice inspections for schools (5 May 2012)
- Schools get King James Bible to mark 400th anniversary (15 May 2012)
- Michael Gove pushes for performance pay for teachers (16 May 2012)
- Plans for O-level-style exams to replace GCSEs (21 June 2012)
- Governors hit back at Gove’s ‘badge of status’ comments (6 July 2012)
- Gove turns down group’s bid for extra education funding (14 July 2012)
- Academies told they can hire unqualified teachers (27 July 2012)
So no need to be a qualified teacher in England any more. This news, of course, was buried by being announced on a Friday in the school holidays, on the very day of the Olympic Games opening ceremony. Perhaps that was to avoid another strike by teachers like the one in November 2011?
From where I’m sitting, this looks like part of a wider move to centralise schooling in England. There were huge financial incentives for schools to become academies. Now, even if the money’s not there, there’s certainly political and other kinds of pressures bearing down on headteachers and governors.
Once English schools all become academies they’re outside of local authority control but under the direct control of Whitehall. Gove may bleat that academies have powers to do this or that, but when there’s no buffer between the headteacher and the all-powerful politician in control of the money, there’s no real contest.
Michael Gove is the most power-hungry, dangerously reactionary, and misguided millionaire Secretary of State for Education we’ve had a for a long time. He proposes yachts for over-privileged, taxpayer-funded families and gives out religious texts inscribed with his name. Meanwhile extra cash for the most deprived boroughs is turned down and, in the midst of one of the most sustained attacks on the profession in living memory, teachers are expected to roll over and accept performance-related pay.
Who will rid us of this troublesome beast?
Image CC BY-NC staticgirl