I knew that the historian Sir Richard Evans was a rather abrasive and quarrelsome man, but I was staggered by his vicious attack on Michael Gove in the Guardian last week. Here’s Evans’s first sentence: ‘Gove presided over the disintegration of our school system; he opened up teaching to untrained people in state schools, because he had contempt for professional educationalists. The restoration of professional teaching in our schools must now be an urgent priority.’ What? Those who follow these things will know that the two men have a history of exchanging insults, but how bizarre of Evans to vent his spleen on untrained teachers. Many great teachers are untrained enthusiasts for their subject, or people with a natural talent for working with children. But in any case teacher training is often painfully inadequate. I know whereof I speak because I myself am a qualified teacher. The only useful part of my course was the term spent as a student teacher, learning on the job — which is Gove’s preferred method. And by the way, Richard Evans teaches at a university — was he trained as a teacher?
This is an extract from Miriam Gross’s diary in this week’s Spectator.