Open Thinkering


You are not Mr Gove’s audience

I’m a big fan of paying attention to what people and organisations actually do rather than what they say they’re doing.

Let’s take Michael Gove as a for instance. Last year I asked whether there was evidence he is systematically dismantling English state education. If we take the 30,000ft view, what’s changed since then? Certainly nothing in terms of the trajectory in which he’s trying (and largely succeeding) to take state education in England.

If you’re a teacher, you’re not really Mr Gove’s audience. If you’re a parent you might be – but only if you read his semi-official outlets such as the Daily Telegraph or Daily Mail. So who is Gove’s real audience? Well the Conservative Party for one (he wants to be the next leader) as well as big business. Both applaud his moves to introduce the logic of the market into state education.

The ideals of the right in politics include lower government spending and private enterprise competing in a marketplace with as little regulation as possible. This is the future for our schools in England under Michael Gove; Academy chains, already growing larger, will be allowed to make a profit as the ‘saviours’ to progressively-defunded state schools. Chomsky was right.

There’s nothing new about Gove’s approach, apart from a maybe a new kind of clinical cynicism. Schools will be forced into becoming Academies by hook or by crook. He’s already changed the Ofsted inspection regime, caused chaos via the EBacc, and suggested lower pay for teachers (under the smokescreen of ‘performance-related pay’). We can look at all of these things as separate examples of a floundering Education Secretary who doesn’t know what he’s doing, or we see them as the constituent parts of a approach by a manipulative politician who plays Realpolitik. 

Image CC BY-NC Thomas Hawk

4 thoughts on “You are not Mr Gove’s audience

  1. So what is the happy medium? I would not want state run schools (socialism, common core state standards) and I do not want to see all schools privatized (profit margins, elitist). I guess it should come back to local control? Both parties in the U.S. have their own forms of indoctrination that runs contrary to the other party’s. How can we remove both politics and business from the education equation?

  2. Right on Doug, apparently the good news is that seeing as Tesco’s is going broke they can’t afford to move into running schools in the UK after all 🙂 Maybe we should ask McDonald’s instead?

    Gove’s legendary media skills are truely sith lordish, after all he started out in life as a journalist for Rupert Murdoch. I agree that often he just seems oblivious of the fact that behind the politics lies the fact that he is responsible for directing the STATE education system. For someone so keen to work in policy he seems to appear treat it more like a game of roulette or blackjack –

    As for the old supply vs demand question about education, I think everyone should sit and watch Milton Friedman argue it out as he did in the 70’s because the debate is strikingly the very same one that you hear today and essentially has been there now for way too long. I think it is the wrong debate for our times though.

    It is not at all a new thing that this policy debate has become such a big deal. That is why I think this work and attempts to work ourselves away from thinking in the same old paradigm and rut are so important.

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