Regular readers of my blog know that I find myself as often as not wondering from where does Mr Gove gets his policies and his evidence? I am indebted to the same readers for keeping me up-to-date, though it must be said that the Guardian newspaper is doing a pretty good job anyway. firstname.lastname@example.org finds me everytime.
Anyway, a new website has been set up by the opposition to specifically check MG’s claims and statements, in order to assist in the process of keeping schools and educators sane.
Here’s the website (http://www.goveversusreality.com), and the front cover says: “Gove Versus Reality looks at the policies pursued by Michael Gove for his radical and draconian transformation of the English education system challenging his assumptions and the evidence he advances to support his approach. Please tell friends and colleagues about this site.”
Whatever you think of the man, it is quite amazing the way now his speeches are being checked word for word. Here’s the Guardian earlier this week: “http://www.guardian.co.uk/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2013/apr/19/michael-gove-education-policy-bad-buffet?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter
And here’s the Guardian yesterday: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2013/apr/22/michael-gove-school-holidays-error
Whenever Mr Gove’s views are challenged, it is his department that then picks up the tab to make reply and support their boss. The mood of course in the DfE is not wholly supportive, as MG has made it quite clear he is downsizing the department by 50% in terms of offices and spend, and 25% in terms of people. Today, staff at the Department for Education (DfE) in England announced that they are to stage fresh strike action in a dispute over jobs and office closures – here’s the BBC on that: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-22283311
And why I hear you thinking does an Independent School proprietor bother himself about these state school matters? The answer lies in the passion you will see about education throughout our school, be that for Nursery, main school, Sixth Form, academic or pastoral, technical or extra-curricular. We care for the whole child, and understand that every learner is different. We care massively that children are treated as individuals, and that all are included in the planning and execution of their provision. Never before in my career of almost 40 years in education have I witnessed a Secretary of State be so unwilling to use rigorous data and scientific method prior to making choices for our country’s children.
Yesterday evening, Richard Bolton (who leads British Youth Rowing) visited our school to talk the parents and rowers about their planning and preparation for the coming season. Talking about commercial food supplements (which are both expensive and very well marketed) Richard had this to say: “The claims they make (that they are better than food) are either ‘lies’ or ‘cheats’. If they are lies, why would anyone buy the product? If they are ‘cheats’, then the athletes will fail doping tests and they’ll never row for Britain. There really is nothing better than real food for growing great rowers!”
And I’d echo that for education too. There is nothing better than real, hands-on education for developing the whole child. Not every child can be as talented as the best, but with great planning and preparation, coaching and family support, every element of who they can be will be developed. Education should reach every part of a child, academic, spiritual, emotional, athletic, aesthetic, artistic as well as include practice for their craft skills too; not only should we afford that, how dare we not? What the press links above highlight is that the public and profession cannot trust this MP’s rhetoric. And that makes me very angry, because this country is built upon the democratic belief that our politicians will serve the electorate that placed them in Parliament. And we are ill served when politicians lie, as if we have not had enough of their deceit already.