Mr Gove writes a letter


In a bid to re-kindle the ancient art of letter-writing, it seems that sly old Foxy-govey and nice young Mr Twiggy-wiggy have recently been corresponding with each other. First Mr G sent Mr T a jolly long letter attacking the vagueness of Labour’s Education policies. So clever Mr T replied by accusing Mr G of spending too much time writing letters and not enough actually doing anything. Now that made Mr G very cross indeed, so he picked up his quill pen and in his very best handwriting wrote another lengthy letter listing all the wonderful things the Conservatives, or rather he, had done since they came to power.

Michael Gove kindly warns Stephen Twigg: people think you’re weak

Now it so happens that All Change Please! has come into possession of a possible copy of Mr G’s original reply before a junior minister wisely took a red pen to it prior to popping down to the Post Office to wait in a long queue for a First class stamp at the tax-payers expense.

So here is the original with the believed deleted text shown in red:

Dear Stephen,

Thank you for your response to my letter. You suggested I should spend more time attending to the government’s education policies. Since the general election we have:

  • Opened 81 free schools and approved 211 more, to provide 130,000 extra places once they are full. In doing so we have allocated a civil servant and twice the normal state budget per school ensuring certain organisations get a disproportionate slice of state-funding and helping to squeeze out those remaining hotbeds of nasty lefty marxist comprehensives.

  • Increased the number of sponsored academies from 203 to 699, making billions of pounds of state funding directly available to various global commercial organisations as I privatise the state system in front of your very eyes.

  • Allowed all schools to convert to Academy status – an option 2,225 schools have taken so far, so that a majority of secondary schools are now academies. Well, when I say allowed, of course I mean forced.

  • Opened 16 Studio Schools and approved 28 more, which is strange really as these appear to completely contradict our overall policy of emphasising academic education. Hmm, perhaps I better look a bit further into this one?

  • Drafted a new National Curriculum that will be taught in schools from September 2014, despite the fact that it has been rejected by employers, teachers, subject associations, teachers unions, and most academics.

  • Given all schools freedom over the length of the school day, because as we all know the longer children spend at school the more their parents can work to earn more money that we can raise taxes on.

  • Given teachers the power to search pupils without consent for banned items, especially those malicious and dangerous mobile phones that not only provide access to the internet and all that seditious free thought but actually allow young people to express their own ideas and communicate with the wider world and worst of all cheat in tests. I mean we wouldn’t want to give them the idea that real life was like that now would we?

  • Given heads the final say on exclusions by removing the rights of appeals panels to overturn their decisions. Even if they are biased or just want to get rid of some of the non-academic kids they’ve given up on as they will lower the school’s position in the league tables.

  • Given teachers the power to enforce same-day detentions. greatly inconveniencing parents waiting at the school gate, or make them anxious that they have not got back yet having possibly been beaten up by a gang of teachers on the way home. We intend to be tough on detentions but not so tough on the causes of detentions, which is usually poor teaching that we have done nothing to improve.

  • Increased fines for truancy. This is of course needed to help meet the extra cost of more thousands more truancy officers that will be needed when the school leaving age is increased to 18.

  • Set out plans for more rigorous GCSEs that will be taught from September 2015. And that will be failed by more pupils from Summer 2017.

  • Introduced the English Baccalaureate which has led to a doubling in the percentage of pupils studying an academic core at GCSE. And subsequently failing to find a job

  • Enlisted the Russell Group to design new ‘deep thought’ A-levels. Which will produce even more people in society with a profound and deep sense of failure

  • Restored marks for spelling, punctuation and grammar in GCSEs, which your government abolished. So it’s SPAG that’s being assessed rather than subject knowledge?

  • Scrapped excessive modules, coursework and controlled assessment. Which enabled many children to actually gain a qualification that bore some resemblance to real-life

  • Commissioned the Wolf Report into vocational education and implemented its findings in full. The Wolf report… a sheep in wolf’s clothing…?

  • Ensured only high quality vocational qualifications that lead to employment and further study count in performance tables. Thus ensuring that there are now far fewer courses that relate to sort of jobs that most people actually end up doing

  • Ensured all young people who fail to get a C in English or Maths GCSE carry on studying those subjects to 18. If they ever actually turn up to school

  • Introduced a £2.5 billion pupil premium to target funding at those most in need. That will be spent inappropriately by most schools.

  • Scrapped eight education quangos. And failed to replace them with any other advisory bodies. leaving teachers to fend for themselves.

  • Cut bureaucratic guidance to schools by three quarters. And issued bureaucratic orders instead.

  • Announced that, from this September, rigid pay-scales, which led to automatic pay rises regardless of performance and prevented heads from rewarding great teachers, will be abolished. With the result that unsatisfactory teachers in shortage subject areas will get paid a great deal more than outstanding teachers in the Arts and Humanities

  • Introduced £20,000 bursaries to attract top graduates in maths and science to teaching. Until that is they realise that they can still earn far more in industry.

  • Encouraged a record number of top graduates to apply to become teachers, despite the fact that good graduates do not necessarily make good teachers.

    Expanded Teach First, with quadruple the number of places on the scheme by 2015-16. Until of course participants realise that if they’ve been a teacher for more than a couple of years, they’ll never be able to get a job in industry due to lack of recent and relevant experience.

  • Moved teacher training out of lecture halls and into classrooms through the introduction of Teaching Schools and School Direct. With the result that teachers have no knowledge or critical awareness of the various different approaches to the processes of education.

  • More than doubled funding for extra school places to £5 billion to deal with the shortage of primary places that is the direct result of the last government’s failures to control immigration and plan for a rising school population. While failing to realise or provide for a predicted bulge in the Primary School population over the next few years.

  • Scrapped the wasteful Building Schools for the Future programme which you have admitted squandered billions of pounds. And completely failed to understand how narrow corridors and soulless square-box schools leads to impoverished learning.

  • Published more data on school performance than ever before, including data on how many children from each school get to a top university – data kept hidden by the last government. Spent more time and money producing worthless data that schools ignore, while failing to fund proper and effective Continuing Professional Development for all teachers.

Of course there is plenty more to do to raise standards, but I hope this reassures you about the progress this government has made on education policy.

Perhaps you could now set out the progress the Labour party has made on education policy since the general election by answering the questions I put to you earlier?

Yours sincerely,


Image credit: Will, Flickr.

Michael Gove kindly warns Stephen Twigg: people think you’re weak