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Many of Britain’s best head teachers backed Michael Gove

21 July 2014

Reading the papers over the last few days, you’d be forgiven for thinking that no teachers backed Michael Gove and his agenda. But a letter in The Sunday Times yesterday told a very different story.

Signed by 76 people, most of them head teachers of outstanding schools in deprived areas, it praised him as ‘a man of great conviction’ and declared that his ‘passion to level the playing field has been unwavering.’

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The letter is a reminder that many of the best heads in the country were in favour of the Gove agenda because they realised that the status quo was not good enough.

Here’s the letter and the full list of signatories:

Many column inches have been afforded to teachers celebrating the departure of Michael Gove as secretary of state for education, but we as head teachers, teachers and educationalists think it vital that we also mark his achievements and thank him for the difference he has made for some of the most disadvantaged children.

Politics aside, Gove is a man of great conviction. In education that conviction has always been to ensure that where you are born doesn’t have to determine where you end up. Gove witnessed the power of a great education first hand and has used his tenure to champion opportunities for children and families who too often have little choice.

His achievements range from laying the foundations for the first free state boarding school for children from the inner city and giving great teachers more opportunity than ever before to turn around failing schools in the poorest parts of the country to allowing great head teachers to set up new schools in disadvantaged areas to ensure that more children can benefit from outstanding teaching. These are all important and brave strides forwards that should not be overlooked.

Gove’s passion to level the playing field has been unwavering, but we will see the impact of much of his work only in years to come as children benefit from a more rigorous examination system, a more competitive teaching profession and a narrowing of the gap between children in the richest and poorest boroughs.

Change breeds controversy, and while we don’t all agree with every policy or priority, we do believe that, in time, history will remember him alongside Lord Adonis and Lord Baker as a great reformer in education. We warmly welcome Nicky Morgan into office and hope she will continue with the zeal, determination and passion of her predecessor.

Sir Greg Martin, Durand Academy; Professor Julian Le Grand, LSE; Dame Joan McVittie, Woodside High and former president of the Association of School and College Leaders; Sir David Carter, Cabot Learning Foundation; Sir Dan Moynihan, Harris Federation; Victoria Beer CBE, Ashton on Mersey School; David Hampson OBE, Tollbar Academies; Joan Deslandes, Kingsford Community School; Amanda Phillips, Old Ford and Culloden Primary Academies; Pamela Wright OBE, Wade Deacon High School; Professor Alison Wolf, King’s College London; Dame Sally Coates, Burlington Danes Academy; Patricia Sowter CBE, Cuckoo Hall Academies Trust; Anthony Seldon, Wellington College and Wellington Academy; Jane Simons, Berkhamsted School; Judette Tapper CBE, The Platanos Trust; Liam Nolan, Jackie Powell, Russell Bond and Darren Foreman, Perry Beeches Academy Trust; Dame Rachel de Souza, Inspiration Trust; Adrian Ball, Thetford Academy; Dr Chris Tomlinson, Harris Federation; Paul Smith, Parbold Douglas CE Academy Trust; Alison Edmonds, Woodpecker Hall Primary Academy; Richard Cairns, Brighton College and London Academy of Excellence; Sharon Ahmet, Cuckoo Hall Primary Academy; Matthew Laban, Kingfisher Hall Primary Academy; Lord Ralph Lucas, Good Schools Guide; Barnaby Lennon, London Academy of Excellence; Mike Griffiths, The Samworth Church Academy; Jane Bass, Powers Hall Academy and Connected Learning MAT; John Townsley, The Gorse Academies Trust; Kris Boulton, King Solomon Academy; James Easy, ARK Academy Primary; Mary Elcock, Heron Hall Secondary Academy; Sarah Counter, Canary Wharf College; Tom Clark CBE, formerly George Spencer Academy; Dame Helen Hyde, Watford Girl’s Grammar School; Martin Latham, The Robinswood Academy Trust; Dame Susan John, Lampton School; Marc Jordan, Creative Education Academies; Maura Regan, Carmel College; Hamid Patel, Tauheedul Education Trust; Charles Rigby, Challenger Trust; Toby Young, Hywel Jones & Robert Peal, West London Free School; James O’Shaughnessy & Briar Lipson, Floreat Education; Tim Knox, Centre for Policy Studies; Katharine Birbalsingh, Barry Smith, Jonathan Porter, Katie Ashford, Joe Kirby, Michaela Community School; Dennis Sewell and Ben Thompson, Trinity Academy; Jo Glen, Dolphin School; Sir Andrew Carter, South Farnham School; Mark Goodchild, Challenge Partners; Karen Walsh, Cedar Mount Academy; Alison Colwell, The Ebbsfleet Academy; Dame Dana Ross-Wawrzynski, Gary Handforth, Elizabeth Allen CBE, Bright Futures Educational Trust; Professor Anthony O’Hear, University of Buckingham; Jennifer Bexon-Smith, Tudor Grange Multi-Academy Trust; Mark Lehain, Bedford Free School; John Tomasevic, Torch Academy Gateway Trust; Alan Davies, Great Sankey High School; Kate Dethridge, Churchend Primary; John Mcintosh, former head of the London Oratory

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Show comments
  • TeacherToolkit
  • HookesLaw

    Good – and is there any reason why they should not love his successor? Is there any policy change?

  • Colonel Mustard

    School’s out for the day and the lefty teacher twitter mob has arrived!

    What a larf!

  • The Masked Marvel

    Tell it to the BBC, James. They were leading the ‘two-tiered education system’ charge, and hated Gove for a variety of reasons. Everyone reading this already knew there was support for his schemes. Get yourself on the Daily Politics or one of the brain-dead radio chat shows.

    What you really need to do now is admit why Cameron really did this, and use your insider connections to get the message across that pandering to the BBC and unions will not win him the next election.

  • Smithersjones2013

    Gove’s sacking will go down as the greatest of many errors in Cameron’s ‘night of the rusty knitting needles’ or is that ‘ rusty hairpins’?

    PS No one seems to be mentioning that the MacMillan ‘Night of the Long Knives’ presaged the down fall of the then Tory Government.

    • HookesLaw

      There is no comparison with the night of the long knives. Macmillan sacked no less than 7 members of his cabinet. Sacked. In this case Hague was not going to stand again and Clarke was 74 and both Hague and Gove remain in the govt in important senior positions. Furthermore one of those sacked was the Chancellor of the Exchequer and it marked a significant change of economic policy. I believe all the Treasury team went with Selwyn Lloyd.
      However despite your assertion, that has not stopped various people mentioning it.

      In comparison this is a perfectly predictable reshuffle (of which there have been commendably few) clearing the decks for a general election. Gove was in place for over 4 years which is a long time for a minister. All the legislation he needed to pass has been passed.
      As I recall education covers other things these days – it covers children’s services as well, although perversely not universities.

      Sometimes you know good ministers come in with a reshuffle. Sir Keith Joseph joined the cabinet in ’62.

  • McClane

    Nicky Morgan will be the Estelle Morris of the Conservative Party.

    Estelle Morris resigned her post as Secretary of State for Education and Skills in October 2002, explaining that she did not feel up to the job. Cameron should have left Gove in to finish the job he started.

    Morris did, of course, end up in the House of Lords, so it wasn’t all a waste of time.

    • Smithersjones2013

      Poor Nicky. The newspapers are already shying away from using her photograph (See D’Ancona and Anderson’s deranged surrealism in the Telegraph at the weekend).

      So much for being more media friendly!

  • Kitty MLB

    I know quite a few teachers who admired Michael Gove.
    He had vision, principles, and passion.He wasn’t afraid of rocking
    the cosy little educational leftie elitist boat, he was on the side
    of children and believed that regardless of “class” that every child
    should have the chance of reaching their full potential.

    Gove’s views were traditional ( but not Social Darwinism) as
    telemachus insultingly calls them.
    He believed, children went to school to learn , that discipline in a
    classroom was very important, that teachers were not social workers and needed to be capable.That ignorance was not acceptable.All children must know the basics.
    He was not for lazy teachers( some are) or teaching unions
    or for bureaucrats but for the children and their futures.

    Its utterly wrong that the most excellent secretary of Education
    that we have had in decades has been removed because
    he wasn’t popular.

  • ButcombeMan


    Gove has been the victim of an organized, leftist, producer interest, smear campaign, to which Cameron has capitulated

    I commented a few days ago Cameron had a choice, effectively back Gove and do that fulsomely (Maggie style), or sack him.

    If he had backed him he should have trumpeted that what Gove was about, was the future of the country.

    Cameron chose the weak course. What little respect I ever had for him has leaked away. he is not a leader.

    it is all academic, Cameron will not be re-elected. He does not deserve, to be, re-elected. He is all spin and no substance.

    If Lynton Crosby orchestrated the moving of Gove and Paterson, Crosby should also be sacked. Crosby just does not understand UK politics.

    • HookesLaw

      Don’t be daft.

      • ButcombeMan

        Ah, reasoned argument.

        Evidently some people agree with me.

        • HookesLaw

          I am being polite.
          The reshuffle is quite sensible – not least in the light of Gove’s polling with the public and there is no indication of any policy changes. There is no logic to your anti Cameron tirade so your pursuing a ‘reasoned argument’ jibe is laughable.

          This government despite its LD appendage has been very radical and there is little to object to it over. I seem to remember Thatcher ditching various ministers when they became an embarrassment – Gove is still in the govt and as chief whip has a good link to the party.

          All this self flagellating over Cameron is really quite pathetic. Of course he deserves to be tory leader and PM – his rival at the time of election has shown himself to be selfish and duplicitous and Fox (a man far less talented than he thinks he is) has shown himself to be totally selfish.
          His only problem is those numpty tories who more interested in idealogical purity and obsessing about the EU instead of actually getting the govt re-elected.

          • ButcombeMan

            Hooky, my dear chap

            Too many long time Tory supporters have left the party or stopped supporting it, (mainly because of Cameron), for your view of events to be remotely sensible.

            Your blind loyalty is touching, but more than slightly unrealistic.

            Cameron is stuffed. The party is stuffed.

            I have given up, after 50 plus years of support.

            Cameron panders to people who he /thinks/ might support him, at the cost of alienating those who would wish to support him, if that is, he was “one of us”.

          • southerner

            “The reshuffle is quite sensible – not least in the light of Gove’s polling with the public..”

            Ah yes. Government by opinion poll and focus group. The perfect summary of the Camerloon.

    • The Masked Marvel

      Indeed it has been a lengthy and dedicated campaign, and the BBC a chief perpetrator. As for Crosby and What Me Worry Dave, one gets the sense that they’re fighting the last election rather than this one.

  • dado_trunking

    ” many best heads backed…”
    … and they still do. Ergo Gove is no longer required. Job done.

    • ButcombeMan

      But the job is not done until the whingeing, bleating, leftists & Guardianistas that represent “producer interests” have been defeated.

      It is too early to say the job is done until the UK starts rising up the international comparison charts..

      • dado_trunking

        I hate bleating whingers. That is why Farage appeals to me so much.

  • Peter Stroud

    This shows that Gove had the support of those that really matter in the education sphere. Let us hope that his politically correct successor carries on the good work. I’m afraid that replacing Gove, and removing Owen Paterson has shown Cameron for what he really is: a PR man, through and through. Very sad.

    • you_kid

      Some will say OP ought to join UKIP to maximise his potential.
      I too would welcome that.

    • Mike Barnes

      “This shows that Gove had the support of those that really matter in the education sphere. ”

      Yeah I’m sure these 76 could educate millions of kids on their own. Teachers don’t matter, any chump can do it.

    • Tubby_Isaacs

      It shows he had the support of 73 people.
      How many do you think are involved in education altogether?
      Why do the others not count?

    • Makroon

      You and Forsyth are repeating yourselves.
      It is boring.

  • Colonel Mustard

    Now wait for the usual bile from the resident Gove-hater and Education-denier.

    • Louis McDarty

      Well done to Gove for carrying on Blair’s Academies Programme. Another Victory for New Labour’s legacy.

      Gove once said: “I can’t hold it back any more; I love Tony!”.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Unfortunately the majority of your comrades disagree.

        • Louis McDarty

          So you don’t care that Mr Gove is a big fan of Tony Blair?

          • Andy

            All Socialist are Fascists and evil.

          • McClane

            Does it matter? That he once said, ‘I love Tony’? Do you have a source for this quote? Are you sure it was Blair he was talking about?

            • Colonel Mustard

              I googled it and found lots of lefties claiming he said it, exclaimed it, etc, in 2004 and a Peter Hitchens article that it was the headline of a letter Gove wrote to Blair in February 2003. But I was unable to find it as an original attributable quote.

              • Louis McDarty

                He also said in 2010, the “Conservative party represents Blairism at its best”!


                • McClane

                  If a week in politics is a long time, then four years must be an eternity.

                • Louis McDarty
                • McClane

                  Thank you for that link. If you read the article it mentions, it is true en passant and only in the first paragraph, Gove’s desire to be heir to Blair. But the rest of the article discusses Gove’s opposition to UK membership of the EU, Which is decidedly not what Blairism was about. Blair, after all, sacrificed part of our rebate in exchange for changes to the CAP and the EU Fisheries policy, neither of which happened.

                • Louis McDarty

                  So you think Mr Gove was wrong to have said he was a great fan of Blair in that Education select committee session?

                • McClane

                  Of course, if The Upcoming is your idea of serious polities (right now Upcoming’s Current Affairs top headline: ‘Bond star Ben Whishaw replaces Colin Firth as new voice of Paddington Bear’ then you’re likely to have a fairly superficial view of what constitutes current affairs.

                • Louis McDarty

                  So you really think Mr Gove is not a fan of Blair?

                • McClane

                  I don’t honestly care. He was right in very many things he did for children in the education system. He took reforms way beyond anything Blair envisaged, could or would have done. And he should have continued. This entire Blair issue is a Socialist red herring.

                  You are telemachus and I claim my £5.

                • Louis McDarty

                  If Blair was so bad, then why would Gove praise him like this?

                  From the parliament’s own records (15 May 2013)


                  “If you are saying I am the heir to Blair, or a disciple of David Blunkett, I would plead guilty to both-well, I’d plead guilty to being a disciple of David Blunkett; heir to Blair, I don’t know. But seriously, my approach is- ….

                  …Yes, I will. I am a disciple of David Blunkett. Tony Blair will decide who his heir is, but I am a great fan of his as well.”

                • McClane

                  Read my lips: I honestly don’t care.

                  You are telemachus and I now claim £10.

                • Louis McDarty

                  Sorry , I was just genuinely curious as to why those people who hate Blair but like Gove , don’t seem to understand why Gove is a fan of Blair.

                • McClane


                • Louis McDarty

                  I think , maybe the reason, a lot of Conservative rank and file members find it somewhat uncomfortable that such a senior Tory MP such as Mr Gove is a fan of Tony Blair.

                • McClane


                • Makroon

                  You “serious socialist” types won’t understand, but Gove has a wicked sense of humour.

                • John Hutton

                  This made me laugh —>

                • HookesLaw

                  Its all very well saying you don’t care but the rightwing nutjobs are always misrepresenting Cameron’s ‘heir to Blair’ remark. Now when the man the nutjobs have invented into a folk hero is shown to express similar (quite sensible) sentiments in the context of reform you have to pretend it is insignificant.

                  Wanting to follow in the footsteps of the public service reforming aspect of Blair is no bad thing – the left opposed him all the way. This govt have indeed done very well on the subject.

                • McClane

                  You are Telemachus and I claim £80.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Troll alert- lefty disruptor using repetitive “So you…” gambit.


                • Louis McDarty

                  Why do those people who hate Blair but like Gove, don’t seem to want to understand why Gove is a fan of Blair?

                • HookesLaw

                  Trouble is she has struck a raw nerve. More fool you for being found out.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  A raw nerve about what? She/he is just a troll.

              • McClane

                It’s on on a blogpost dated March 2010 and the quote comes from an article in The Times dated 25th February 2003.

                So we’re talking about ancient history.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Thank you for that.

                • HookesLaw

                  The point is Blair’s education reforms (well the 2006 ones) were opposed by labour left the unions and Brown.
                  This is why ‘Gove liked Blair’ – the policy was a sound one. The tories supported it at the time The tories have taken it further.
                  Brown also blocked Blairs welfare and pension reforms.

                • Makroon

                  Sorry to spoil it – but Brown also blocked Blair’s plan to join the Euro. Let’s not pretend Blair was some sort of far-sighted icon.

          • Colonel Mustard

            Not particularly, even if true which seems of some doubt, but I do find the lefty “So you…” gambit of introducing straw men or sly ad hominem exceeding tedious.

            • Louis McDarty

              Have you ever wondered why Mr Gove praised Tony Blair and New labour?

    • Kitty MLB

      Oh yes, he that spouts social Darwinism at every opportunity
      and a typical leftie who would never want children to reach
      their full educational potential and have aspirations.
      Because they’d be unlikely to vote Labour, keep them poor,
      ignorant and trapped.

      • telemachus

        This from the DT
        Michael Gove will say that schools must set their standards “so high” that they are indistinguishable from the best fee-paying schools like Eton and Harrow.

        He will say he wants to end the perception that state education is “bog standard” by emulating independent schools with tougher tests, longer school days, more extra-curricular activities and better discipline.

        Mr Gove will say: “My ambition for our education system is simple – when you visit a school in England standards are so high all round that you should not be able to tell whether it’s in the state sector or a fee paying independent.

        “We know England’s private schools are the best independent schools in the world. Why shouldn’t state schools be the best state schools in the world?
        3 cheers
        He lost his job because it was evident he could not deliver
        If you castigate and demotivate your workforce they perform worse not better
        I met Nicky Morgan after her graduation from St Hugh’s. I warrant she will be a breath of fresh air

        • ReefKnot

          Please don’t respond to Telemachus. He is a well practiced troll and will only divert the thread or lead it onto his own agenda.
          Please don’t respond to him.

          • Inverted Meniscus

            Well said.

        • Kitty MLB

          “it was evident he couldn’t deliver” What
          evidence, it took labour 13 years to wreck the
          education system. He had to start rebuilding
          from then the bottom. Reforms and their benefits cannot be seen overnight.
          Children don’t appear as a 5 year old on
          Monday and magically become 18 the following Friday.

          • Kitty MLB

            Correction- there benefits.

            • Makroon

              Right first time Kitty.
              No correction reqd.

              • Kitty MLB

                Really, Oh gosh! Its a private joke between a
                couple of us here…but give yourself an apple!

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