Following the Daily Mail leak last week Gove was called the next day to the House of Commons to answer questions, most of which he skilfully avoided (as politicians always do), presumably as he didn’t have any answers. He could have explained that these were just early proposals due for full consultations. He could have immediately quashed the idea that a return two-tier system was not a serious idea, or that it could be realistically put in place by the timescale indicated. He could have been a lot more convincing about providing an innovative new approach to the process of examining learning at 16+ and a proper alternative for those who are unlikely to achieve academic excellence. But he didn’t do any of these things.
Then on Monday there was an announcement of a speech he was about to make in which he was extremely disparaging about vocational courses as a whole, intimating that they were all a waste of time, and emphasising as a fact that employers were more interested in academic performance than real knowledge and experience of the workplace.
And then there have been recent news reports about the lack of appropriate qualifications and experience of, admittedly probably a very small number of Ofsted Inspectors, but nonetheless something that Gove must be held responsible for. It is difficult to tell exactly what is going on, and there are optimistic rumours that he is about to be re-shuffled, and that in terms of his legacy, wants to be seen as the man who introduced the return to so-called Gove levels, whatever shape or form they might eventually take.
However, just in case there are no plans to move Gove on to a different department over the summer, or that any attempts to introduce Gove levels have not now as expected been put off until after the next election, it is time for all those in education to find a way to make it clear to the country the ways in which his reforms will be so destructive, and that they have no confidence whatsoever in his ability to develop a clear and cohesive policy that will be to the future benefit of the nation’s children.
Finally it’s good to know that there is at least one MP who not only gets it, but has done her homework as well. Pat Glass, Labout MP for North West Durham spoke in the House during the subsequent debate on the GCSE reforms, and revealed Gove’s statements on PISA scores and Singapore for the nonsense they are. Her speech is contained in the comments section below. Now here is someone who really should be the minister for education.
*The title of the film Mickey Blue Eyes comes from Michael being forced to impersonate a gangster, who Frank names “Kansas City Little Big Mickey Blue Eyes”.