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Michael Gove’s ‘personal crusade’

10 July 2014

Michael Gove’s speech to today’s education reform conference is a robust defence of his reforms. He calls closing the attainment gap between rich and poor a ‘personal crusade for me’.

But I suspect that the headlines will be grabbed by his claim that the teaching unions aren’t standing up for education but for their ‘own pay and pensions’. He says that the status quo isn’t good enough and ‘we mustn’t keep going backwards – and failing the poorest above all.’

What I found most striking, though, was Gove’s praise for how academy chains are turning round failing schools such as Downhills. Indeed, Gove clearly envisages a far greater role for these chains. Describing the schools system he wants to see in 2024, he says that he wants to see ‘A marked and sustained rise in school quality, driven by every school being part of a supportive, collaborative chain or network’. I suspect that scaling up academy chains is going to be one of the next features of Gove’s reform agenda.

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  • 20thcenturymax
    I’m not convinced that academies and free schools are the answer. And like any reform on this scale it would be ridiculous to claim such a thing until a sufficient amount of time has passed to show a true picture. However I do feel that Gove is in far too much of a rush to push this relatively untested idea to its limit. Let’s see whether the above link is evidence of massive fraud, the tip of an iceberg, an unfounded allegation or a ‘rogue’ example…time will tell!

  • Salas

    i tend to stay out of politics, but sorry, Goves is a clown. I sincerely believe he doesn’t believe in half the policies he’s enforcing and is merely a representative of Tories voter winning strategies

  • exSecondaryModernTeacher

    “Scaling up academy chains” – like the 14 which are currently paused from taking on more academies after being encouraged to do so? Like E-Act which operated in a culture of extravagance? Like Barnfield Federation which claimed £1m for non-existent pupils? Like Prospects Academies Trust which has just decided to dump its academies? Like WGAT which wanted to close one of its academies without consultation? Like the academy trusts identified by the Guardian which gave contracts to companies connected to trustees? Like PVET which is causing rather a stir in B’ham?

  • exSecondaryModernTeacher

    Anyone notice the academy chains Gove praised for their GCSE results had very few secondary academies? They both only had five each. In one chain, Greenwood Dale, only TWO of the five secondary academies reported a rise in results in 2013 (and results dropped in one – Nottingham Girls Academy – from 56% to 30%).

    The other much-lauded chain, Outwood Grange, had an average of 75% reaching the benchmark of 5 GCSEs A*-C including maths and English. Impressive? Only until you strip out the equivalent exams Gove hates so much – then the average drops to 40%.

    When GCSE results of sponsored academies are compared with similar non-academies there is actually no difference. Sponsored academies do not out-perform similar non-academies. Here’s the data:

  • exSecondaryModernTeacher

    Downhills was improving before it became an academy. In September 2011 Ofsted said the school, which was in Special Measures at the time, showed “a clear trend of improvement”. Unfortunately, Gove disagreed with Ofsted and said Downhills was failing. The same lead inspector returned in January 2012 after Gove’s intervention and reversed her earlier finding – Downhills was Inadequate.

    But Sats had risen and continued to rise after the decision to enforce conversion took place. Art work from Downhills was among only a few schools in the country chosen for display in the National Gallery – again, this was before conversion.

    Harris has built on the “clear trend of improvement” noted in September 2011 and the renamed Downhills is now Good. But it wasn’t all Harris’s doing despite Gove’s rhetoric.

  • Adaadat

    Bet there won’t be anything about the bright kids – the ones languishing in our failed education system, like the poor children he cares so much about. If only these children could have an Education Secretary who wanted the best for them, too.

    • Tim Baker

      There are no bright kids

  • Peter Stroud

    One thing is certain, we were fed rubbish about increasing standards, and more pupils succeeding at GCSE and A level. We were assured that teaching standards were continually improving. Yet employers were complaining about school leavers unable to write a letter, without poor spelling and grammar. We were hoodwinked, and realised that things had to improve. It seems that Gove is instigating these improvements. All will not be perfect, but the direction seems to be right.

  • Makroon

    If Gove’s line about the union motivation will be the soundbite selected, why make it at this forum, if he has more important points to make ?

  • dado_trunking

    Every time I see this snirking centralist’s muppet face I am reminded of what the 1960s headmaster look has done to our culture. Some things really are coming back into fashion/never change, don’t they?

  • telemachus

    ‘we mustn’t keep going backwards – and failing the poorest above all.’
    So Gove
    Abandon your Educational Social Darwinism
    (Plonking Free Schools next to LEA Schools hoping engaged parents will move their children-thus ensuring the LEA school withers over 7 years during which the children of the 14% non-engaged parents and others lose any educational chances to which they might have the aptitude)

    • Martin Adamson

      A neat encapsulation of what is wrong with leftist educational thinking. He puts the welfare of the institution – propping up the failing School – above the welfare of its pupils.

      • telemachus

        See above
        Gove needs to proactively send in a task force to such schools to drag them up to the best

        • Colonel Mustard

          A task force is needed here to drag you away.

        • David B

          More of the same is not a policy. Sorry it is Hunt’s policy but it won’t work – more of the same leads to more of the same results

        • Inverted Meniscus

          No close them down, sack the teachers and replace them with free schools.

    • BigAl

      Or you can just leave the pupils in a LEA school to meander downwards. That will keep the unions and the socialists happy as everyone will be the same even if it means they are all poorer or receive a lower level of education.

      • telemachus

        No no no
        You put all your energies into improving them
        Gove’s doctrinaire nonsense is in truth the lazy way

        • Inverted Meniscus

          No sack the teachers and open free schools.

    • David B

      No Tele you need to abandon your flat earth society approach to education where nothing is allowed to change except for increases in teachers wages and failure is adopted as the new benchmark.

      Only Gove has an answer and the unions hate it because it’s costing them power.

    • Inverted Meniscus

      Sorry lad but Michael Gove is far too busy scouring the rancid filth of socialism and its doctrine of mediocrity and failure to worry about your fetid bilge. I’m looking forward to when he starts sacking some of the worthless unproductive scum who teach in these schools and replace them with people who put children’s education first rather than the needs of the Labour Party and the communist scum of the NUT.

    • The Masked Marvel

      You just want a Handicapper General to enforce equality of outcome.

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