Features

The teachers who (quietly) miss Michael Gove

Yes, he’s unpopular – except with the people who can see the results

14 March 2015

9:00 AM

14 March 2015

9:00 AM

‘Michael Gove,’ the joke goes, ‘you either loathe him or hate him.’ According to one poll (by Ipsos Mori) the former education secretary is by far the most unpopular politician in Parliament, with a net likeability rating of minus 32. A video of him falling over has been watched 487,000 times on YouTube, you can buy crocheted pin cushions of his head for £25 and teaching groups loudly accuse him of ‘doing to children what Thatcher did to the miners’.

So why does my mother love him? It’s pretty simple. She’s been a primary school teacher for more than 20 years, and she says her pupils are producing better work than they ever have thanks to his reforms. She would never admit it in the staff room, and is nervous that I will ‘out her’ in this article, but she is adamant that what she says is true. What’s more, she says, she’s not alone. Up and down the land, there are silent but highly motivated clusters of teachers, guerrilla fighters for Gove.

Last month, home for a visit and stuck for anything to read, I picked up the diaries written by her Year One class. One, a six-year-old, had written a Hilaire Belloc-style account of what he had for breakfast — which began sedately, with cereal, before plunging into a regime of chocolate donuts, thence to a violent tummy ache and a trip to the doctor. It had me laughing, properly laughing, it was so vividly and beautifully written. There were 30 of these accounts and each was remarkable in some way, whether in the quality of its spelling, handwriting or imagination. It was so much better than any work I had previously read that I asked her what had changed.

‘Gove,’ she said. ‘It’s simple. Because of him, children are expected to work at a higher level.’ It’s what independent schools like Eton have always known — children can do better if we expect more of them.


It wasn’t so long ago that things were very different. Under a Labour administration, at a different school, my mother was severely criticised for trying to ‘teach’ children of reception age. Although the parents thought this was a very good idea, Ofsted didn’t. Visiting that classroom one day I pointed out the word ‘caterpillar’ had been misspelled, prominently, on the wall. With a desperate, harassed look, she said she couldn’t take it down for fear of upsetting the teaching assistant who had written it. My mother had lost all confidence in herself. She doesn’t vote Tory; she didn’t know that what she needed was Govean reform.

At around the same time, my inspirational A-level English teacher packed it in altogether. She was no longer doing what she did best; she was working on a supermarket checkout. Nowadays, she might be able to pass on her deep love of verse to comprehensive school pupils with total impunity. But under New Labour, the teachers who were lauded were her very antithesis. New Labour’s teaching heroes were in the mould of ‘outstanding’ English teacher, Liz Palmer, who penned a column for the Guardian last July explaining that she was quitting the profession — to run a ski chalet — because Michael Gove was forcing her to teach… romantic poetry. ‘I cannot stand in front of the classroom,’ she wrote, ‘and make children chant the work of Keats, instilling them in the belief that the only voices worth hearing in our society are those of a dead, white, English, male establishment figure.’

‘Gove has put rigour back into teaching,’ explains a highly experienced teacher at a London state school, who did not want to be named. ‘The exams have got harder — but that’s right, they should have done. The expectations have gone up and I think most teachers, even the ones who say they hate Gove, now accept that previous expectations were too low.’

Recently trained teachers, who joined the profession since the last election, are often unaware of how low expectations used to be. A friend teaches Ancient Greek at a London state school, where candidates are queuing up to get into Oxbridge, and sees nothing extraordinary in it. Ordinary kids embracing Pericles used to be the stuff of Boris Johnson’s dreams — the only person I know who learnt Ancient Greek at school went to Eton, with Prince William.

At Queens’ School, Bushey, in Hertfordshire, Kevin Rooney (who coaches the school’s outstanding debating team) was recently asked to explain to civil servants at the Department of Education why his students so consistently outperform their private school opponents. Rooney said: ‘All over the country you have pockets of very dedicated teachers and kids with a bit of aspiration. Put those two together and hey presto! Under the last government we were being utterly micromanaged in how we taught our lessons. Gove trusted teachers to a greater extent and didn’t want us to jump through all these useless hoops.’

Pupils excelling; teachers beginning to understand the reforms — it’s all exciting stuff, except that a change of government in May might ruin everything. You would expect a Labour politician to champion the rights of working-class children, to ensure that they get the best education possible, but the irony is that it’s Tristram Hunt, the Labour shadow education secretary, who seems not to care if poorer children have no access to the humanities.

Kevin Rooney agrees. ‘I’m so left-wing I fall off the scale, but Labour are the most philistine group of people I’ve ever seen. They want to use education to solve every broader social and political problem — from teenage pregnancies to low voter turnout — everything except the main issue, which is educating young people. When I was at school in the heart of republican West Belfast, I may have been poor and working class, but we were taught our Shakespeare, our Plato and Aristotle.

‘Right now, teaching feels exciting — it’s as if a door has opened and there is light coming through.’

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  • Carrie Oakey

    We all love Gove. It was always obvious that he wanted to improve standards for the children. That was his emphasis and rightly so. He appears to have integrity. I often get the impression with teachers and other public servants that it’s all about them – the employees. Their rights, their holidays, their sabbatical, their maternity leave, their pension, their non-teaching time etc..blah blah.

    And then Cameron sacked him. What does that say about him?

    • Fraser Bailey

      Yes, he was the only Education Secretary in my lifetime who made a genuine attempt to improve the standard of education in England. Even better, he was an adopted child who came from nothing.

      For this, needless to say, he was pilloried by the Left and, ultimately, sacked.

      • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

        He was pilloried for being a disaster. This millionaire Daily Mail journalist was such a failure nearly every teaching professional body made votes of no confidence in him. Hence the sacking.

        • Yes, that’s right. The vested interests – the blob, if you will – saw him off.

          • Mr Arthur Cook

            What is “the blob”?
            Gove used the phrase in the way that journalists do ….just drop it in to a headline and the mugs will swallow and repeatedly regurgitate it.
            If you seek to define the term through the variety of contexts in which Gove and his minions used it you find the de facto definition is:
            “Anyone who has more knowledge of education than I do and who disagrees with me”.

            Even Morgan recognises the term to have been a gaff which pointlessly alienated a whole raft of educational professionals.

            Thank God Gove wasn’t given health. He’d have told doctors and nurses how to do their jobs and then when they disagreed he’s have called them “the quakocracy” with his wife screeching “enemies of health – enemies of health – enemies of health…” from the politcally balanced pages of the Daily Mail!

          • Arthur, don’t be so ingenuous, you know perfectly well that Gove was referring to the vested interests, which in his view were stifling the progress of our children.

          • Mr Arthur Cook

            Who are these “vested interests”?
            Is it the backers of Academy chains…especially the ones who are Tory party donors?
            Is it the “corporates” looking for a slice of the education budget?
            Is it the “Academy consultants”? – do you know what they’ve been paid!!!!
            Who are these “vested interests”?

          • No, you silly, that lot are generally in FAVOUR of the changes he tried to introduce. He was OPPOSED by vested interests consisting in the beneficiaries of the ancien regime – unionised teachers, the inspectorate, the cultural Marxists and their fellow travellers. That’s what he meant when he spoke of the Blob. Why do I even have to spell this out for you? You know this perfectly well. Again, I wish you would stop being so disingenuous. It’s really quite tiresome.

          • Mr Arthur Cook

            Come now Mrs Fart rear or whatever yer name is. Even the vacuous Ms Morgan has conceded that the “blob” nonsense was cooked up to support the political ambitions of a single man. As a journo he knew there was a layer of the swivel-eyed loonerati who would latch onto a slogan and meaningless phrase and repeat is parrot fashion until the electoral cows came home.

          • Nah, it’s just shorthand for ‘vested interests striving to maintain the status quo’.

          • Mr Arthur Cook

            There has never been a “status quo” in education. since the 70’s the sector has been subject to and coped with vast changes.
            All made for political purposes but never as incompetently and in such a self-serving way as now.

          • You can try as hard as you like, Arthur, but you will not be able to define out of existence the vested interests opposing Gove’s reforms. Let it go.

          • Mr Arthur Cook

            Who are these people “opposing” reform?
            Head teachers – Gove told us they were the great hope and that they should be given all the power……..until they laughed at him at conference as asked “are you leaving”?
            Is it “teachers”…but that is “the noblest job of all” and power was to be put in their hands ………………until they told him he was nuts and making it up as he went along.
            The “experts” he appointed to his curriculum review panel were the best there were – until they all resigned when they wouldn’t say what he told them to say.
            What about the Tory chair of the Commons Educational select committee – MICHALE “stop taking the urgent pills!!!!!” – he’s part of the BLOB???
            “the blob”…….a phrase coined by a moron, repeated by morons.

          • Did you actually read the article?

          • Mr Arthur Cook

            Yes – you have a point?

          • If you had read the article, you would know that it is precisely about the people who support Gove’s reforms, and those who don’t. I don’t see why I should have to recapitulate it for you.

          • Mr Arthur Cook

            If we’re honest the “article” isn’t about very much other than another “we love poor Michael” rambling smeared in the Michael Gove Gazette – which sadly was once worth reading.
            I can’t actually find who “the blob” is and the mechanisms through which it works its evil?
            You clearly know all about the education system and the forces which shape it – so won’t you elucidate your “blob issues” ?……..I might be getting a slight hint of avoidance here!!! LOL

          • The Blob is the people responsible for the firewall you yourself mentioned just now.

          • Mr Arthur Cook

            Uh? That doesn’t make sense!

          • Not to you maybe. To anyone outside your bubble, it will be crystal-clear.

          • Mr Arthur Cook

            Are you Chris Eubank?

          • How very leftfield of you. Are you feeling ok?

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            The professional academics he knew better than.

          • Yvon. Barry. Sometimes, in our elective democracy, Government Ministers seem to think that reforms need to be carried out on the functions with which they have been put in charge of. Sometimes, for better or worse, they meet opposition on the part of vested interests, who wish to maintain the status quo from which they benefit.

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            ….and sometimes ill informed, arrogant idiots choose to impose their cod beliefs and backward dogma on innocent kids.

          • Yes, the Blob does have a way of doing that.

            Also, may I ask why you are calling Gove ‘arrogant’? Do you actually understand the meaning of the word? A person is arrogant when they assume powers or privileges to which they are not entitled. Gove was the Secretary of State for Education. As such he had the well-founded authority to instigate educational reform – so to call him arrogant is rather strikingly wide of the mark, one would think.

          • Mr Arthur Cook

            You need to buy a dictionary!!

          • I’m sorry Arthur. But it’s very difficult to see how the Secretary of State for x in an elective democracy can be described as arrogant in virtue of wishing to reform x. His opponents might argue that he is mistaken, that his reforms are ill-thought-through. But they can’t reasonably accuse him of arrogance, because the very fact that he is the secretary of state for x entails that, in dealing with x, he cannot be arrogating to himself powers which he is not entitled to exercise.

          • Mr Arthur Cook

            You don’t understand the word arrogant.
            Buy a dictionary!

          • Er … Arthur. Arrogance is a matter of arrogating to yourself powers which you’re not entitled to exercise. The Secretary of State for Education has an excellent mandate to exercise powers in relation to education. So arrogant is something he cannot be. But you said that Gove was arrogant when he was the Education Secretary. It’s no good merely repeating your mantra that I should buy a dictionary. You’ve misused the word yourself.

          • Mr Arthur Cook

            Oh dear you seem to be getting very confused!!

          • It’s not matter of being confused. It’s simply that you don’t understand.

          • Mr Arthur Cook

            Do we have an elected government?
            I can’t remember seeing a majority of seats at the last general election giving us a Tory government and so giving an electoral democratic mandate for such policies.
            I do see an installed unelected government with a party which failed to achieve a majority propped up by a party which prostituted itself for the sum of 18 inches of temporary bum space on the front benches.
            And so to “the minister”, who, so toxic to his own party was defenestrated in short order leaving a book mark to stand in front of the fan as the manure of ill though out policies flies in her direction.
            Examination system in chaos
            Funding scandals in academies galore
            Shortages of school places
            Untrained “teachers” in schools
            Teacher shortages
            £1bn overspent on the DfE budget
            An “wonderful new national curriculum”….which half of schools don’t have to teach.

            A car crash of a “minister” with fag packet policies who was glad to walk away and leave his droppings for poor Nicky to pooper scoop up.

          • I really do not see, Arthur, why I should have to give you a tutorial in how representative democracy works in a first-past-the-post system when no single party obtains enough seats to form a government on its own. You appear to be suggesting that parties ought not to be allowed to form coalitions. Perhaps you would like to live in a system which had elections every few months, and in which the legislature was paralysed as a result. I see that you have listed a number of shortcomings, as you see them, of the present arrangement. Imagine how much worse they would be if we had, in effect, no government, as would be the case if the system adopted your suggestion of disallowing coalitions. Think things through, Arthur, think things through!

          • Mr Arthur Cook

            Ms Botox – a government appointed by a monarch is not democracy.
            The “shortcomings as I see them” are again:
            Examination system in chaos
            Funding scandals in academies galore
            Shortages of school places
            Untrained “teachers” in schools
            Teacher shortages
            £1bn overspent on the DfE budget
            An “wonderful new national curriculum”….which half of schools don’t have to teach.
            Please do explain the real benefits of each as you see them.

          • Arthur, I think you’re being a teeny bit disingenuous again. The electors vote for M.P.’s. Either one party wins an outright majority of seats, in which case their leader becomes the P.M. Or there is a bit of horse-trading and a coalition emerges, again with a P.M. He goes and sees the Monarch, and she invites him to form a new administration. But that part of the proceedings is just a formality. It’s the electors who elect the government. It is a democracy.

            Next thing. Thank you for setting out your list of supposed shortcomings of the present system. And for inviting me to explain why they are in fact benefits. However, I don’t think I need to take you up on your invitation, as the ball is already very much in your court. You have expressed a dislike for coalitions. And, as I have already pointed out, the consequence of doing away with coalitions is that we would be stuck with elections every few months, and a paralysed legislature as a result, in which the problems you identify in your list would surely be greatly exacerbated. As I said before, Arthur, you really must think things through. Have at least some regard for consequences.

          • Mr Arthur Cook

            ?
            Examination system in chaos
            Funding scandals in academies galore
            Shortages of school places
            Untrained “teachers” in schools
            Teacher shortages
            £1bn overspent on the DfE budget
            An “wonderful new national curriculum”….which half of schools don’t have to teach.

            No? ……………….am I beginning to get the idea that you don’t know anything about education……mmmmmmm

            You should ask if you can be one of Nicky’s spads!!!

          • Well, now you’re just listing, yet again, what you see as the defects of the present system, with no attempt to explain why these problems would not be exacerbated by a parliamentary system in which coalitions were disallowed as per your wish, and the legislature was paralysed by continuous elections as a result. Are you a teacher yourself, Arthur? Because if you are, I worry about your pupils. You’re not setting a very good example of the exercise of critical reasoning.

          • Mr Arthur Cook

            Show us your “critical reasoning”

            Examination system in chaos
            Funding scandals in academies galore
            Shortages of school places
            Untrained “teachers” in schools
            Teacher shortages
            £1bn overspent on the DfE budget
            An “wonderful new national curriculum”….which half of schools don’t have to teach.

          • I think that this is now the 4th time that you have presented us with a list of what you see as the defects of the present system. And so, for the 4th time of asking, why would all these problems which you have identified not be exacerbated in a system of your choosing, i.e. which disallowed coalitions, and in which the legislature was in consequence paralysed by continuous fresh elections?

            You won’t answer this simple question, because you can’t answer it. All you can do is go back to your stupid lists. That is why I accused you of lacking critical reasoning skills.

          • Mr Arthur Cook

            A period when “the legislature was paralysed” might be a real positive for education…..and indeed many other areas of endeavor!!!
            Perhaps we could conduct an experiment where for 5 years “the legislature” .stopped playing education like a political football and see if it collapses through lack of “initiatives”, “crack-downs” and “transformations”. In some countries this constant political abuse of power has been solved by placing a firewall between the education system and “ministers” who seek to use “reform” as a political pony they ride in pursuit of their own careers.

          • Well, Arthur, now you’re admitting the existence of the Blob – vested interests obstructing the work of the democratically mandated Education Secretary. Tells us all we need to know. What a disgrace!

          • Mr Arthur Cook

            Oh dear ……………now you’re getting all hot and cross …….like a little bun!!!
            Re. the “democratically mandated Education Secretary” – but she doesn’t want to engage in “blob talk” at all!! She says she feels it’s unhelpful?
            The “democratically mandated Education Secretary” you’re talking about was sacked by the democratically mandated Prime Minister for being an electoral liability. Did you miss that? I was in all the papers!!!
            Look….honest…..he’s goooorn!!!
            http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/07/15/michael-gove-reshuffle-chief-whip_n_5586854.html

          • Mr Arthur Cook

            “democratically mandated Education Secretary” – that’s Nick Morgan. She seems to feel the term blob was unhelpful and inflammatory.
            Mr Gove was sacked – if you remember.

      • Mr Arthur Cook

        It was worse than that!!!
        He was pilloried by:
        Teachers
        Head teachers
        Parents
        Education academics
        The arts community
        Industry
        The examination boards
        and the Tory chair of the Commons Education Select committee.

        Of course – his views did receive huge support from:
        Himself
        His wife
        His own personally selected advisers
        The press owned by Murdoch (his ex boss)
        And what the Tory party call “the swivel-eyed loons” who want to live in an imaginary 1953 again.

        Two sides to every story uh?

        • kentgeordie

          More proof, if needed, that the interests of the education industry are not identical with the interests of education.

          Under Gove there was a dramatic rise in the number of children in good schools and a dramatic fall in the number of poor teachers.

          Alongside this simple fact the views of the arts community, the exam boards and the teachers’ unions fade into insignificance.

          • Mr Arthur Cook

            You mean “good schools” like the Kings Science Academy? The Al-Madinah school? Barnfield? King Solomon High School?
            All “good” schools? ……..until the smell gets too bad and then OFSTED rushes back and “changes their mind”. OFSTED gradings of schools are a joke.

            As you’re clearly an expert – “dramatic fall in the number of poor teachers.”
            Evidence?

    • GraveDave

      We all love Gove. ’

      Evidently not.

      According to one poll (by Ipsos Mori) the former education secretary is by far the most unpopular politician in Parliament, with a net likeability rating of minus 32.

      Which begs the question, what do his colleagues and Dave know that we dont?

      • Ed  

        Your question is backward. What do those who dislike him not know? is the correct question to ask, and it should be asked of the BBC, among others……

        • GraveDave

          Minus 32 dude.

          • Ed  

            Nerve touched. Enough said.

    • davidofkent

      The teaching unions are the remnants of old-fashioned nationalisation. The principle of nationalisation was always ‘a job for life on the terms we dictate’.

      • Ed  

        Ah, nationalism and socialism. What a loverly mix. With the children paying the price.

        • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

          Nationalisation is a bit different to nationalism Ed.

          • Ed  

            You’ll find the attitudes that lead to them are circles that overlap, somewhat. Should you choose to look…..

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            Do you mean they can be construed as the same as they can be represented by Venn diagram?

          • Ed  

            I do believe google will reveal that the typical Venn diagramme does indeed display circles that overlap to various extents, yes…..

      • Mr Arthur Cook

        ……and you feel the “privatization” of rail, power and water has given you a better deal?
        Weren’t the banks edifices of private enterprise?……until their greed and incompetence plunged us into a crisis? Then we “nationalised” them – paid off their bad debts, paid off all the compensation claims…and when all the debts are cleared…….we give it back to the great “private sector”…….the same city boys as before!!! You know the ones who fund the Tory party!!

        • kentgeordie

          See above a rare sighting of that endangered species, the Clause 4 Labourite.
          Yes, let’s renationalise the commanding heights of the economy. For too long we have been denied the benefits of the British Rail sandwich.
          History shows that only by adopting whole-hearted socialist measures can we eliminate human greed and corruption.
          And talking of elimination, the loss of those standing in the way of progress will be a small price to pay for achieving the workers’ paradise

          • Mr Arthur Cook

            At least the privatized rail sandwiches should be larger and made with baguettes.
            They get MORE state subsidy than BR did ……. and most are owned by European nationalized rail companies!!

          • kentgeordie

            You seriously believe that the NuBR catering workers union will allow management to import cheap foreign substitutes eg baguettes and paninis???

          • Mr Arthur Cook

            “cheap foreign substitutes” …..is what a “free market” Tory party is all about. Especially with cheap labour! Dave doesn’t want out of Europe as it supplies all his friends with slave labour….at LOW LOW PRICES!!

          • I must say, reading his comments is making me curl up and dry, just like those godawful sandwiches.

    • Marcussmod

      So you have empirical evidence of this ‘impression’or is this just a gut feeling?

    • Mr Arthur Cook

      Re. “He appears to have integrity.”

      Michael Gove ‘flipped’ homes: MPs’ expenses
      Michael Gove, a front-bench ally of David Cameron, spent thousands on furnishing his London home before “flipping” his Commons allowance to a new property in his Surrey constituency, and claiming £13,000 in moving costs.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/5305434/Michael-Gove-flipped-homes-MPs-expenses.html

      Really?

  • kentgeordie

    There can be few public figures where the gap between what they have done and how they are perceived is as great as with Gove.
    Hundreds of thousands of pupils, teachers, parents and governors are deeply in his debt, yet his name is mud.
    Serving the common good rarely receives its just reward.

    • Marcussmod

      Why would any Teacher be in his debt? He vilified the profession and froze salaries during his tenure. He also removed barriers of entry to the teaching profession.

      • kentgeordie

        He lopped off the dead wood, raising the performance of teachers and therefore their status.
        Head teachers now have stronger teams; junior staff now no longer have to carry incapable colleagues.

        • Marcussmod

          Nonsense …Gove has in effect ‘deprofessionalised’ teaching as he removed the need for entrants to have qualified teacher status. The status of Teachers is lower than ever with many Academies employing new staff as trainers and thus paying a salary inline with a junior clerk.

          • Mc

            The issue tackled by Government was that some teachers were worse than useless, irrespective of their qualifications. Subjects don’t require a teaching qualification to teach them, but no doubt every union member would be against that.

          • Marcussmod

            Contrary to Daily Mail myth, teachers have been one the most scrutinised professions in the public sector long before Gove took over. Targets based on accounting type baseline data were set annually and reviewed termly. His reforms have simply given macho management SLT teams the power to hound older more expensive and better qualified staff out of the profession.

          • Mc

            Being heavily scrutinized is irrelevant if the standards being scrutinized are low.

          • Marcussmod

            How do you know the scrutiny was low? You are making subjective statements without any knowledge of the actual teacher performance appraisal policy. For the record performance appraisal is mainly based on students meeting exam targets based on previous attainment. It is rather like management accounting in which one tries to create a favourable variance. It is also linked to pay scales. Typical management accounting techniques have been used to assess teacher performance for years.

          • Marcussmod

            So you are saying anyone can teach subjects even though they have no expertise of the knowledge and skills sets within them? You cannot be serious.

          • Mc

            See my other comments – you’re using a straw man argument. You remind me of the Chavez groupies who keep insisting that Venezuella is a socialist paradise, with tales of economic implosion being American lies.

          • Marcussmod

            I notice you don’t answer my question There is no comparison between Chavez and the point I was making about needing expertise to reach a subject. That really was feeble. You obviously don’t really understand what you are talking about. Try and have a go at the old ‘teaching lark’ without subject knowledege and see how far you get. Ofsted will fail your lesson for a start and that will lead to SLT scrutiny.

            For the record numerous academics and the HoC select committee on education were critical of Gove’s tenure. His critics were from various sectors not just Unions.

          • Trinity85

            You my friend do not get logic. So by enticing highly professional private sector workers who probably have more knowledge application than some teachers are ‘unprofessional’ ?

            By making it easier for industry professionals to become teachers Gove has enticed a massive level of highly skilled people who upon wanting to say start a family or wind down their career can impart their MASSIVE knowledge onto the next generation.

            Sadly it is this view that by those like yourself that Teachers are a low status job, and that teaching should be a job not a passion that kills our education system.

            If we have motivated teachers who want to ACTUALLY TEACH and not read parrot-fashion from a text books then that to the man who bought about that change I raise my glass!

          • Marcussmod

            You obviously are not aware of the actual reality. In my experience the ‘highly skilled professional private sector’ won’t teach teaching in the state sector with a barge pole. I have sat on numerous interview panals where the qualifications of so called experts was extremely weak and their experience irrelevant to teaching.

            You need to aquaint yourself with facts.

          • Trinity85

            Sadly for you I do research my facts. I also know the correct context in which to use the word acquaint.

            I am aware of a number of former financiers, scientists and accountants who have upon having a family or approaching retirement chosen to move into the teaching area. While I would concur these are people who have not been through the glorified ‘professional’ teaching exams they could probably do far better than teach out of a text book and that is my point which sadly you seem to be oblivious too, you are yet another example of a society that is so hung up on pieces of paper that you loose sight of what makes someone good for a job, it’s not a PGCE etc it’s knowledge of the subject area and the ability to convey the subject and explain it.

            You also seem to be unaware of how candidate screening works, the point you made of having interviewed a number of people who were unsuitable doesn’t prove a single point except that you need to filter out unsuitable candidates as a matter of recruitment.

            The point which you have conveniently ignored is that passionate teachers with subject knowledge who can do more than read a text book should not be frozen out because of a piece of paper. In fact such people should be welcomed into teaching and be given the support needed to hone their skills.

            When backward thinking individuals leave the arena to make way for those who wish to embrace change for the better even if it does mean actually having to work harder then this country will progress and society will value teachers as a major asset regardless of pay scales.

          • Marcussmod

            Up until this year I was a school Governor in Essex and sat on numerous interviews. One candidate had actually failed his PGCE yet was still appointed as he was the cheaper than the qualified candidates. Schools are using non qualified staff as cheap labour particularly in the SE. They are employed as non qualified staff and are considerably cheaper than someone with a PGCE.

            As for an Army of non qualified pension age graduates dealing with unruly Secondary age children, all I can say is good luck with that one. Your lack of real understanding of the education sector convinces me you have not been inside a school since you left fifty odd years ago.

            Btw teaching isn’t just about reading a book. Anyone doing that under an OFSTED inspection would be graded as unsatisfactory.

        • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

          No he raised the reported performance of teachers ,not the actual performance.

          • kentgeordie

            What you say is simply untrue. The two schools of which I have some knowledge, one as a teacher, the other as governor, have both lost a proportion of their weakest staff in recent years.
            Teachers are under enormous pressure to perform well, with the ever-present prospect of ‘capability proceedings’ leading to departure within weeks rather than months.
            This is hard on the teachers, but we all know of incompetent teachers who in the past were able to keep their jobs for decades.

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            We all know of excellent teachers who eschew the job due to low pay, low morale and navel gazing. I would make an excellent teacher. But I am not prepared to be minutely managed by career bureaucrats and heftily underpaid.

      • Ooh!MePurse!

        He didn’t villify teachers, the teaching unions portrayed his actions in that way because they are stuck in a 1960s timewarp. Salaries were frozen in line with other public sector workers as a consequence of Labour’s reckless and disastrous increases in public spending.

        • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

          What? The pay freeze was to pay for the massive bank bail outs that resulted from the global credit crunch and to satisfy ludicruous Tory dogma.

          • Chris Taylor

            Unless your are a teacher you have no idea of the negative and obstructive culture that permeates many schools. No wonder Gove was unpopular.

          • Ian G

            Gove didn’t create that. The left did. I saw it happening before I left the profession. Any attempt at discipline of any kind, academic, personal, social was seen as an assault on the child’s freedom. The result, as I predicted, is an underclass.

          • Chris Taylor

            I am shocked at the abuse I have received (see above) for referring to the good results I have achieved with students. I have been called a “results monkey” amongst other things. What does this say about the adults who should be supportive of successful teachers? Spite, jealousy and resentment from those who are probably parents. Shocking.

          • Ian G

            I got excellent results but the head didn’t want our department to grow. When I left the school, we had 60 children opting to exam RE in a State School. It’s unheard of – even in Church schools. Somehow I was made out to be a traditional stick-in-the-mud who was old-fashioned and not really very good. I should have realised when I heard an 11 year old boy tell the Head to “F**k off” and I had to reprimand him.

          • Bert

            Think you’ll find
            ” massive bank bail outs that resulted from the global credit crunch”

            happened under Labour’s watch in 2007/2008!!!!!

            And was still ongoing in 2010 when the Conservatives formed their coalition government.

            But don;t let the facts get in the way of a ill informed rant now will you.

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            So something that happened Globally and caused massive QE in America, China, Japan, Brazil, the EU ,etc was in fact caused by Britain having a Labour Government at the time.
            When the Japanese printed $1.2 trillion they should have sent the bill to Blair and Brown. Also the failings of Lehmans, Bear Stearns, Washington Mutual,Fannie Mae and Freddie mac, Merril Lynch and Fortis all Labours fault .Plus the failures of the economies in Iceland, Ireland, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece, all Labour. Stil a big thank you to Cameron for sorting it all out in 5 short years.

          • Bert

            You clearly have a hazy memory of the timeline –

            The “something that happened globally” didnt occur until 2007-2008. labour voted in 1997 fyi, in case you missed that.

            Financial Crisis was 2007-2008 – Gordon brown had already been borrowing an EXTRA £30 billion per year for the previous 7-8 years!!!!!!

            So think your disingenuous claim that Im blaming everything on Labour a bit rich!

            When was US QE?
            When was Japan’s QE?
            When were the bank failings?

            Clue – they were NOT before 2007!

            You’ll also find that in 2007-2010 Labour were in charge and the financial regulatory framework that led to the City “Excesses” was very much of Labour’s making – taking away supervision from BOE for instance and giving it to a bunch of useless muppets at the FSA.

            “Stil a big thank you to Cameron for sorting it all out in 5 short years.”

            The point being he hasn’t – and another £500bn odd has been lumped on the national debt.

            Where is all the money going?

            Regardless of political affiliation this is the fundamental question EVERYONE should be interested in.

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            Are you for real? You genuinely think the Brown Labour Government caused the Global financial meltdown that commenced on 9 August 2007, and the numerous bank failures that ensued. Try Thatchers deregulation of the City and the 1986 Big Bang.

          • manofsuffolk

            If Gordon Brown and the BBC admit it was a Labour failure, you can be pretty sure they were up to their neck in it.
            http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13032013

            GB bailed out the banks, the banks didn’t put a gun against his head. For his own political considerations, and in part to cover his mis-handling of the City, he poured billions in to bail out HIS buddies that had poured billions into his coffers in the good times. The fact that GB/Labour were running a big deficit in period of unprecedented growth, with strong tax revenues, tells you all you need to know about their incompetence.

            For your (obvious) education, the GFC was caused by the liberal-left in the US ie Clinton et al forcing the US mortgage agencies to expand outwards (in volume) and massively downwards (in credit quality) in order to push their housing for all agenda. The banks were forced to take these mortgages off their balance sheets, hence the creation of mortgage derivatives.
            FYI – where do you think a large chunk of these mortgage products were structured…..go on have a guess….New York…..no…Singapore….no….London…YES!!!
            Why would it take place in London (the AIG offices otherwise known as the Casino were where many were structured) – yes, you’ve guessed it, Labour’s incompent and inadequate legislation made it the best place to do it.

            Combined with knighting useless bankers, it is difficult to imagine a more destructive ‘perfect storm’ of breathtaking incompetence and arrogance, legislation and regulation wise, and profligate spending believing boom and bust had been abolished, spending wise

            In summary, Labour, and Gordon Brown in particular, have so much to answer for that history will rightly excoriate them for the huge damage they have caused. The fact that 35% of the electorate are still voting for them tells you all you need to know about the levels of state dependency, class warfare and downright ignorance that the Labour government of 1997 – 2010 bequeathed us as their legacy.

          • Bert

            That “Are you for real” question is more pertinent to yourself frankly…

            Stop being disingenuous.The excessive borrowing and surge in UK’s National Debt started LONG before the financial crisis in 2007-2008 – You seem to be ignoring that point. Let me spell that out for you.

            The excessive borrowing of £30 billion, per year, occurred BEFORE the financial crisis.

            The actions of the then Labour party added to the financial mess in that their regulation of the City was exceeding lax. Why else was AIG Financial products, a subsidiary of AIG, only able to engage in its highly leveraged credit default swap biz in london????? Eh. Riddle me that Einstein.

            The Global financial crisis was a combination of excessively lax regulation(due to drooling over expectant tax revenue),both here and in the US, the political doctrine in the US that saw money being lent to people to buy their own homes who clearly couldnt afford the payments(the origins of MBS’s and other structured credit products) and significant greed of bankers. Put those three together and a dangerous cocktail emerged…

            Nowhere did I saw the Global financial crisis was Labour’s making. It’s lax regulation contributed,and did its excessive borrowing in the years preceding the meltdown such that we’d borrowed £220 billion extra BEFORE 2007 hit – the cupboards were subsequently bare as nothing has been saved in the good times.

            “Try Thatchers deregulation of the City and the 1986 Big Bang.”

            You show your true colours.

            I’m not Conservative by the way. Whereas you are clearly a Left Wing troll.

          • manofsuffolk

            Think we’re singing from the same hymn sheet!

          • Dougie

            I think you’ll find it was Gordon Brown who initiated the bank bailouts. Can’t blame the Tories for that.

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            Should have reversed it then….but they didn’t .Just borrowed another £700 billion.

          • Dougie

            It is being reversed, slowly over time, as the Government sells off its stakes in the banks. To attempt to do it precipitately, as you seem to suggest, would have lead to the global financial meltdown that Brown claimed (hilariously) to have single-handedly prevented.

        • Marcussmod

          The problem with Gove was his actual knowledge and understanding of state education could be written on the back of a postage stamp. The man clearly didn’t grasp the complexities of the problems he was dealing with. He alienated an ultra conservative profession like teaching. Which contrary to myth has many Conservative leaning supporters.

          • Bert

            ” The man clearly didn’t grasp the complexities of the problems he was dealing with.”

            Problems look pretty straight forward to me – massive grade inflation with pupils gaining straight A’s yet the UK slipped worryingly down the “League tables” and many of those high achievers were found to need remedial Mathematics/English lessons at Uni,or even worse, in their first year or two at their workplace…

            Methinks Gove assessed the true situation quite swiftly and sought about its solution(despite the obstinate teaching profession and Left wingers generally)

          • Freddythreepwood

            Absolutely. I have lost count of the number of ‘graduates’ with degrees in basket weaving I have rejected because they were unable to put two words together in their own language. How anyone can defend a profession that thinks this is OK is beyond me.

          • Mrs Crewe

            Does going to state schools and suffering under their poor standard count as knowledge and understanding?

        • Mr Arthur Cook

          And now you have a massive teacher shortage………………….so that worked didn’t it!
          LOL

      • Mc

        Removing barriers of entry in order to increase competition and improve standards is hated by every organized criminal, trade union and monopoly.

        • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

          So is the dumbing down of curriculums to create false results. Gove should be ashamed of his manipulations.

        • Marcussmod

          If you end barriers to entry e.g. a post graduate qualification how can standards be improved? Many Academies are replacing older experiences staff with cheap unqualified staff, often from overseas. This cannot be good for standards.

          • Mc

            Another logical fallacy. You and unions claim that someone who is an expert in a subject and has an inherent ability to teach shouldn’t teach because he doesn’t hold a teaching qualification.
            Conversely, simply because someone has a teaching qualification doesn’t mean that they have the aptitude to teach. Everyone, except perhaps yourself, noticed during our school days that a significant proportion of qualified teachers were incompetent.

          • Marcussmod

            If they don’t have a qualification e.g PGCE how can it be proved they have ‘an inherent ability to teach? Think about it?

            In order to gain QT status a potential entrant had to pass the old PGCE. This mainly comprised of passing two teaching blocks and learning the trade before being unleased on students.

            I know there where bad teachers in the past but the profession has been closley scrutinised for years with private sector appraisal methods the norm. There is a dangerous right wing myth that ‘any on can teach’ . Gives reforms simply give this myth creedance.

          • Mc

            Another logical fallacy. If someone does have a teaching qualification, how can one prove someone is capable of presenting a subject well to a classroom?

        • Marcussmod

          By your criterion there should be no qualifications for NHS staff as these by nature are barriers to entry….think about it. Teachers used to need a post graduate qualification PGCE in the subject they were going to teach. Now any Tom Dick or Abdul can walk in to a classroom and teach. Why do think a member of Goves flagship schools has been closed by OFSTED?

          • Mc

            Teachers versus NHS staff is a false comparison, and you know it. Also, I’m pretty sure state schools have also been closed, not just free schools. The idea that free schools evil, state schools good is nonsense.
            I can guarantee that if free schools were all of impeachably high standards, you and the unions would still be claiming otherwise. I.e the problem that the unions have with free schools is that they hate that they have no control over them and that they are socialists who believe only the state should provide education (because the unions have a hold over state schools).

          • Marcussmod

            It is not a false comparison if you value education and the roles teachers have in educating the next generation. You are making a common misconception that ‘anyone can teach’. It is actually a very demanding job. If you had any knowledge of the issues around teaching you would acknowledge this.

          • Mc

            Another straw man argument – I really do hope you’re not a teacher, because you sure have a deficiency of logic and clear thinking.
            Not everyone is capable of effectively putting across a subject to students, irrespective of whether they have no teaching qualification or a whole string of qualifications.

      • Bert

        Why is removing barriers to entry to the teaching profession a bad thing? Surely it’d allow new,more capable teachers to enter the profession and replace those that were not up to standard? (This would surely be to the benefit of the pupils being taught – or dont they matter in your “closed shop” world?

    • Cornelius Bonkers

      Gove’s problem is in being ALMOST a real conservative (lower case). He grasps that education is about the transmission of knowledge and the personal discipline needed to access it. Human beings are not equal entities and never will be. The use of education in the pursuit of engineering the fallacy of equality is the scandal of our times…

    • Mr Arthur Cook

      Is he not popular?

  • will91

    We need to increase academic rigour if we are to have any chance of competing against other nations in this century. Gove was the one man who had a clear unwavering vision of the necessary changes that needed to take place.

  • GraveDave

    So why does my mother love him? It’s pretty simple. She’s been a primary school teacher for more than 20 years, and she says her pupils are producing better work than they ever have thanks to his reforms.

    No evidence that grades have improved, only teachers like your mum and hearsay. It will be impossible to be definite until at least five years down the line.

    • Zanderz

      You clearly have no understanding of the word ‘education’. Schools should never have been made into exam factories. Gove gave ‘education’ back it’s meaning.

      • Peter Stroud

        Those so called exam factories gave us the top scientists, engineers, businessmen and, dare I say it, civil servants and politicians. It did similar things for every modern state, and is now doing so for the developing nations. Why can’t the liberal left see this?

        • Zanderz

          Not sure the point you are making?

          Talk to any university lecturer with more than a few years experience and they are unanimous that current students have no capacity for and/or experience of independent learning or inquiry of mind. Universities regularity run 4 year Bachelor courses now as students arrive incapable of learning at university level. The first year is spent getting them up to a level where the actual course can start.

          Exam factories (secondary schools) simply teach students to pass exams, exams that have gotten easier over the last 20 years.

          Gove’s reforms were to instil rigour, enquiry and interest back into the education system. Long may that last.

          • Damaris Tighe

            I’ve never seen it mentioned but with the conversion of polytechnics into universities & mass university education we’ve in fact moved over to the American system where all except the kids at the bottom of society go on to take degrees, many of them mickey mouse at mickey mouse universities. This wasn’t because American school leavers were better educated than British school leavers – in the past the opposite was true. American degrees typically take 4 years.

            Quality will always out & it’s well known that in the American system some universities don’t count. The same has now happened here.

          • beenzrgud

            You don’t have to look far nowadays to find post grad students who don’t know their a*rse from their elbow. There are plenty of universities that are now production lines too.

          • Indeed, I met History postgrads at the Russell Group university where I taught, who did not know whether the French Revolution preceded the American War of Independence or vice versa.

          • There is an element of truth in your comment. I taught Philosophy and Logic for several years to undergrads at a Russell Group university. Many first years – particularly, for some reason, Politics & Sociology students doing a Philosophy module – had to be taught from scratch how to write an essay. In fact, some of these poor souls had to be taught how to write an adequately grammatical sentence of English. These white, middle-class Anglophone 18-19 year olds, at one of our top universities, were functionally illiterate!

        • Mr Arthur Cook

          China is seeking to change it’s education system from that Gove says he loves.
          They are trying to get away from “sit and listen” – “repeat after me” – fact based “education”.

      • GraveDave

        That’s why I say it takes time to be properly measured.
        Hype and hearsay do not a success make.

        • Stu

          Neither will your bullshit.

      • Mr Arthur Cook

        No ….. you’ve completely missed the underpinning themes of Gove’s reforms.
        All he has done is to push schools into being “exam factories” like those in the countries he’s visited and seen children chanting times tables!!!

  • Mr Arthur Cook

    Fawning drivel!
    Gove was disliked and sacked because he was arrogant and didn’t understand his brief or the limits of his own knowledge.
    He has plunged schools into chaos with “reforms” which were about headlines rather than education.
    Good riddance!

    • davidofkent

      Any reform to a teacher is synonymous with chaos.

      • Mr Arthur Cook

        And to the Tory chairman of the Commons Education Cttee apparently!!!

        “Graham Stuart, chairman of the Commons Education Select Committee, said there was a “lack of coherent thinking” in the Department for Education.

        Responding to a question at the annual conference of the Headmasters’ & Headmistresses’ Conference in Belfast on Tuesday, Mr Stuart called for headteachers to speak up and tell the minister to “stop taking the urgency pills”.

    • Marcussmod

      His academy and free schools ideological vanity project have cost the UK tax payer one billion pounds . The House of Commons education committee has found that there is no empirical evidence that they have raised standards across the board.

      Gove is a rabid ideologue whose over simplistic and arrogant right wing views alienated many parents and teachers. The real reason he was sacked was that he made it all too clear he was after Cameron’s job.

      • GraveDave

        The fans never answer these allegations, I notice.

      • Stu

        Can we have some proof of these statements, apart from the useless whining teachers unions that is.

        • martin_lowe

          Er, Stu – the proof is from the House of Commons Education Committee.

          Can’t you read??

          • Stu

            That is comment not proof and thank you for the ad hom, yes I can read, fortunately I wasn’t educated under a Labour government.
            I also know what empirical means do look it up.

  • beenzrgud

    The system of education in the UK simply isn’t up to the job of producing the sort of people this country needs. We have lots of parrots, but no too many thinkers and doers. At least Gove had the gumption to try and change it, and I suspect he knew his changes would be fiercely resisted, as any change always is.

    • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

      Correct.

    • Mr Arthur Cook

      I think you’ve rather misunderstood the nature of Goves’ “reforms” in ideological terms and in detail.
      “thinkers and doers”….are developed through active teaching and learning and a curriculum based on criticallity and ideas.
      Gove gave us a “fact” based “pub quiz” curriculum where “good teaching” is seen to be “sit and listen to the teachers and memorize what they say so you can repeat it in the exam”.
      His idea was that these methods where giving high test scores in China…so we must copy.
      Clearly he did not take the time to read the pages of the China Daily which often carries letters and articles saying that their schools are exam factories which get lots of “passes” but “are not preparing our children to be critical thinkers in a modern world”.

      Ironic uh?

  • Peter Stroud

    Many people, appreciated how Gove was transforming education. In 2010. vast numbers of children were leaving school for the workplace unable to speak the Queen’s English, or express themselves with the written word. Labour’s ridiculous rush towards the mediocre was leaving our youths in the bottom stream on the international stage. Gove was beginning to change that. How? By simply going back to a system that once worked – for all. A system where rigour counted, and education meant learning.

    Things on the state education front were looking up. But Cameron sacked him, presumably to pacify the teaching unions. So much for our PM’s judgement.

    • Mr Arthur Cook

      Re. “Many people, appreciated how Gove was transforming education.”

      Apparently his fan club didn’t extend to the Tory chair of the Commons Education Cttee!! LOL!!

      “Graham Stuart, (Tory!!) chairman of the Commons Education Select Committee, said there was a “lack of coherent thinking” in the Department for Education.”

  • Damaris Tighe

    A teacher resigns in protest at the restoration of teaching Keats, a ‘dead, white male’. I was taught Keats & his poetry & sensibility have stuck with me throughout my life – as all great literature does. I sometimes read him again & given thanks for all dead, white males who’ve enriched my life.

    Good riddance to Liz Palmer & may all teachers whose minds are filled with the toxic rubbish of cultural marxism go off to run ski chalets.

    • will91

      Very well said. She sounds like one those irritating tw*ts who we all came across at Sixth form (they usually go and do some crap degree and become a Student Union diversity officer). They believe that sneering at our cultural inheritance is to demonstrate a degree of intellectual sophistication.

      There are few things in this world that make me want to self-immolate but one of them was having to study Benjamin Zephaniah at school. Let’s not make an equivalence between his work and that of Keats, Clare, Brooks or Owen.

      • Damaris Tighe

        Yes, & notice how while sneering at our own cultural inheritance they have bags of time for the cultural inheritance of BMEs.

        • Farage’s Fried Chicken

          Holy cockerel, what an awful joke. You really come across as an individual in need of some rather good BBC indoctrination.

        • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

          The anachronistic monarchy. The Church of England.The House of Lords. Knighthoods. Gentlemans Clubs. The City of London Corporation. The public school system. Oxbridge. Fox Hunting. Ascot. Henley. The Boat race. Cricket.
          Funnily enough I sneer at most of these bits of our cultural inheritance.

          • Damaris Tighe

            Yes, you do.

          • Stu

            Then you have a choice, can i suggest that you just leave us to it and live in North Korea.

          • The very fact that burks like you hang around the place, sneering at the very institutions which guarantee your freedom to sneer at them, is testament of their value. Do by all means carry on sneering. Demean yourself by sneering, and in doing so exalt that which you sneer at. It’s almost Christlike. Yvon & Barry sneered for our sins. Hallelujah.

        • I don’t think there’s anything wrong with English Literature including the study of novels written in English by e.g. Nigerians or Pakistanis. What I object to is being told that there is something wrong with us white people valuing our own cultural heritage.

          • Damaris Tighe

            Agreed.

      • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

        My boy had to write an essay on Owen’s impact .The teacher wanted to hear how well he did at the Berlin Olymics and upsetting Hitler.

        • If you knew anything at all about Wilfred Owen, you would know that his poetry was all about the horrors of trench warfare, and would have provided very little comfort to the powers that be. Somewhat ironic, then, that Gove would probably support the teaching of Owen, while you evidently oppose it. Do keep parading your ignorance of our cultural heritage across this site. It’s beginning to become quite amusing.

      • Chris Taylor

        I too have no idea why the doggerel of Zephaniah is given any public attention. I cringe when I see him on TV. Only in this world of cultural dumbing down would he be given an audience.

    • vieuxceps2

      And let’s not forget that she also called Keats “English”. In what way does that make him suspect? She also seems to be unaware of the correct use of “instilling” .Good job she’s gone. Any more out there thinking about it?

    • Exceedingly well said. And what a superb username. Is it your own? Are you Ethiopian or something?

      • Damaris Tighe

        Thanks. Re my name, it’s not, ahem, as expressive as yours! It comes from a novel by Charles Williams (The Place of the Lion). Williams was a member of the circle around CS Lewis & Tolkien called The Inklings. Yes, Tighe sounds a bit Ethiopian but it’s actually Irish. Damaris is Greek.

        • Aha. Most illuminating, thankyou! My username just reflects my juvenile predilection for fart jokes. I’m really just a middle-aged white male tory-voting Anglo-Canadian ex-philosopher who writes novels.

          • Damaris Tighe

            As a novel writing ex-philosopher you might enjoy Place of the Lion.

          • Thanks for the tip, I shall google forthwith. My taste is generally for classic 19th & 20th century literary fiction – Dickens, Trollope, Austen, Elliot, Greene, Fitzgerald, Conrad and so forth.

  • Richard

    Amazing how in Britain, it is only the Left’s opinions that can be stated openly in public. Other opinions must only be aired in private, for fear of backlash from the Left. Isn’t that a sort of totalitarian state?

    • njt55

      My sentiments exactly

      • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

        Well, the problem is what the left says is benign and fluffy while what the right says is rude, offensive and oafish.

  • grutchyngfysch

    Imagine for a moment that Gove had not started his time as Education Secretary with thinly-veiled allusions to taking on the “trots”, spent much of his time briefing the media about “the blob”, and generally making it clear that he relished a bust up with the education establishment.

    Gove handed the unions free ammunition. I’ve heard a number of teachers bemoan the education system, past and present, and offer solutions that they would enact… which are almost exactly like the solutions Gove was aiming for. But they didn’t associate them with Gove – to them, Gove really did despise them.

    Gove’s monumental failure was not one of reform, but hubris. Ironically, if he had been a little less bombastic, and a little more eager to demonstrate what I accept is a genuine belief in teachers’ ability, he might have been able to retain his job. Yes, the unions and other vested interests would still have come – but a quieter less combative voice might have prevailed where his, ultimately, did not.

    • GraveDave

      Gove wants to be seen as a ‘peoples’ Tory. But for all the hype he has the lowest popularity rating – even among his own colleagues.
      So it’s not just a ‘Blob’ thing -is it?

      • Stu

        Aah he says things people don’t like. good for him.

        • Mr Arthur Cook

          Many people say things other people don’t like.
          Does that mean they’re right?

    • Mr Arthur Cook

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.
      I can think of few teachers who thought the education system was great and didn’t want change. It was the result of endless political tinkering starting with the Tories in 1988 and able carried on by New Labour.
      The problem (as you offer) was not down to individual ideas but to:
      1. A personal and political agenda relating to Goves’ ambitions rather than education.
      2. A pace of change which even caused the Tory Chair of the Commons education to tell him to “stop taking the urgent pills”.
      3. Excessive haste coupled with inadequate consideration of consequences leading to endless U-turns and revisions “policies” before the ink had dried.
      4. A desire to play to the swivel-eyed loons of the Daily Mail by vilifying teachers and others who disagreed with him as “the blob” or “enemies of progress” and other childish schoolyard insults which in many ways shows him to be too lightweight for significant public office.

  • Marcussmod

    Gove’s reforms have enabled schools to recruit unqualified teaching staff, often from abroad simply because they are cheap. I find it ironic that people who wittle on about ‘raising standards’ appear to be unconcerned that barriers of entry to the teaching profession have been removed.

    Islamist hardliners also took over many inner city schools on his watch. Gove has much to answer for.

    • balance_and_reason

      they wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Labour’s big welcome party in the 2000’s.

      • GraveDave

        They would have eventually. So let’s not pretend mass immigration is ALL a left wing plot. The Tories introduced it and Heath stopped the only voice trying to speak out against it.

        • balance_and_reason

          standard socialist excuse…the Tories invented PFI so its their fault that Gordon Brown maxed out the credit card on it….the Tories adjusted pension credit tax ….so its OK that Gordon Brown took the entire tax credit…biggest bank raid in history…The Tories allowed immigration …so the fact that Labour Doubled it for every year they were in power is absolutely OK….no one is arguing for Zero immigration ( they also made no provision or plan for the integration of large numbers of people from culturally backward places such as war torn Somalia or Pakistan—results only too evident today)…..uncontrolled excessive immigration for electoral reasons is the betrayal from Labour….we now pay the bill, as with all the other bill’s from that lying, thieving crowd of hypocrites and incompetants.

    • GraveDave

      That’s true of my local secondary school. They come and go like the proverbial blue a–e fly. No stability. There are also lots more teachers being taken on for ‘special needs’ (which these days can mean anything, including language difficulties and cultural barriers.

      Gove especially likes to be seen strutting around in multicultural classrooms.

      • Stu

        Don’t be silly.

  • Teacher

    Gove’s heart was in the right palce and he had the best intentions but he did not understand how infiltrated was the management of schools by the left and so those he was expecting to aid him were working against him. I was a ‘traditional’ teacher with good discipline, high standards and consistently above average results but I was undermined and attacked during the Labour years to the extent that I had to resign early rather than actually have the stress induced breakdown towards which I was heading. I honestly do not know where my grandchildren could go to gain a decent education now. Privately, I imagine, though how my own children will be abe to afford that with student loans to repay, a property ladder out of control and salary stagnation is a tricky question.

    • Mr Arthur Cook

      If you didn’t want “student loans” of £9,000 per year you shouldn’t have voted Tory then!!!!!

      • Paul

        Who brought them in again? Oh yes, St Tony

        • Haha, well done exposing yet another left foot in mouth.

        • Mr Arthur Cook

          That’s him! Tory Tony.
          Now you have Blair lite – Cameron,
          Blair without brains or personality.

  • Ooh!MePurse!

    I’ve been a teacher in a state school for over 12 years and I endorse every word in this article. Some colleagues have moaned that the Give reforms have added to workload. Tough, get on with it, teaching children properly is a joy.

    • GraveDave

      Depends what you’re teaching, and WHERE you’re teaching.

    • kazdix

      Its great to hear from a teacher who deserves respect .

    • Marcussmod

      Give …you mean Gove, wanted to privatise State Education and hand it over to unaccountable corporates whose main priority would be to increase dividends for shareholders.

      • The_greyhound

        As opposed to allowing education to remain in the hands of unaccountable public sector freeloaders whose only priority is to increase their own pay, while lowering standards still further?

  • Harr Driver

    We also need to keep in mind that it’s fat-cat teachers’ unions who are blocking urgently needed school reforms: http://bit.ly/1zYBfp4

  • John Steadman

    I respect Gove for at least one reason – he exposed the scandal of inflated exam grades – alas, some 10/15 years after I tried to do in the TES.See, for example, TES p.15 18/10/96, TES ‘LETTERS’ 21, 8/9/2000…….

    • GraveDave

      Why did they really lower the bar so much -do you think?

      • John Steadman

        I don’t think there ever was any intention of lowering the bar; it was just allowed to happen because everyone benefited from the fools’ gold of inflated grades. For what it’s worth, I think it all started in the late 80s when the Tories (Keith Joseph comes to mind) politicised – even more – education by bringing in major reforms, including a re-examination of school exams (not to mention the stupid box-ticking of the National Curriculum). There was a much closer focus on grades, following the reforms, and the exam boards found themselves in an indirect payment-by-results regime – We ‘produced’ the best grades last year – use us, dear Headteacher! In short, we had the establishment of an exams market. Grades were procured by careful management of the exam assessment process (This, at least my experience, as a GCSE script marker.) Then, of course, there was the continuing development of the ‘everyone a winner’ ethos, resulting from of the child-centred progressive educational thinking begun in the sixties.
        Well, there you…for what it’s worth.

  • Farage’s Fried Chicken

    I cannot believe anyone would genuinely give a number 2 about this [x], sorry.

    • It’s because most people have children who have to do stuff like go to school.

  • Nolo servile capistrum

    I am sure that future historians will report well of Gove. He has put the interests of the children ahead of the self serving educationalists and the latter hate him for it. Whether the seeds he has sown will flourish only time will tell. However I am sure that my experience as a parent will not be unique. I remember being appalled at the attitude of the head of my son’s state school brazenly telling parents at a meeting that she was “aiming for mediocrity” and that “spelling and grammar are not important in the modern age”. That was in 2007 at a well regarded state primary. Unsurprisingly many of the parents there that night have subsequently made every sacrifice to send send their children to private schools; where they can be taught to higher standards by, often, unqualified teachers. Oh, the irony….

  • Schoolswot

    Am I the only one who finds it odd that the only teacher to go on record in this puff-piece writes for the very same online publication i.e. Spiked, as does the author?

    Author – http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/author/Emily%20Hill

    Teacher – http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/author/Kevin%20Rooney

    Spiked is the successor to Living Marxism or LM which was the journal of the Revolutionary Communist Party – all of whom turned out to be libertarian right wingers and hardly the “so left-wing” that Rooney says he is.

    Given the number of teachers who blog these days under their own name it can’t have been that hard to find a teacher that she had to rely on a fellow Spiked writer surely?

    Oh, and the national curriculum has only been in schools since last September, and no pupil has actually started a new GCSE or A level course yet. The old national curriculum left plenty of room for knowledge-rich (horrible phrase) teaching. To suggest that teachers have suddenly woken up since 2010 when they’ve using the old national curriculum anyway is facile nonsense.

  • Chris Taylor

    I was disgusted with my teaching colleagues attitude towards Gove. The English department had a Voodoo Doll which they called Gove and were loudly cheered in the staffroom when they brought it in to show others. The whole staff cheered when Gove was replaced. But then I was not surprised that many were relieved because the results of most of them every year were so poor. Useless teachers did not like Gove. I wonder why?

    • Mr Arthur Cook

      And you, of course, are the best teacher in the school. The only person in education (apart from Gove) who has the best interest of children at heart?

      • Chris Taylor

        How clever you are. I was by a considerable margin the best teacher in the school. GCSE grades between 93% – 100% for 9 years running, A/A* at 75% or better each year in a school with a 32% A-C pass rate in 2014. So yes. I was (until I retired last July) the best teacher in the school and this gives me a right to speak out in the best interests of the children.

        • Mr Arthur Cook

          Spiffing!!! I’m sure they were very sad to see the back of such an example of professional humility.

        • Mr Arthur Cook

          Did you teach GCSE humility?
          Or was it music…..specialising in blowing your own trumpet?

        • Mr Arthur Cook

          So nobody in the school (apart form you of course) cared about the pupil?
          Oh – by the way…..do you believe in freedom of speech? LOL!!

          • Chris Taylor

            Caring about pupils is not the same as educating them, Both are required. As regards freedom of speech I refer you to Spiked (http://www.spiked-online.com/) for your own personal education. Your retorts are pointless.

          • Mr Arthur Cook

            Well we can agree on your assertion “Your retorts are pointless.”.
            There is no possibility of arguing someone out of a position they have not argued themselves into.
            You have clearly set up your own universe of educational values ……. with yourself at the centre with a shining halo. You can now rest in retirement polishing “your” examination grades (I presume the children played no part in their achievement).

        • grammarschoolman

          Congratulations on your excellent teaching and results, Chris. I found the same problem when I taught in comprehensives – getting good results was seen by the other teachers as a betrayal of the children (and, yes, they actually used those words).

          The Arthur Cooks of this world will always hate anyone who actually improves the lot of the children they teach. Thank God that there are people like Gove around who have the desire to tackle them.

          • Chris Taylor

            Thank you. I was beginning to feel under attack by this man simply for being good at my job which I thought might give me some insight into the failures I saw around me and which Michael Gove was trying to address. It is ridiculous that you can be reviled simply by making others look bad. It reminds me of the tactics the less able and rebellious pupils use to dissuade the bright and the keen in the classroom.

          • grammarschoolman

            You’re very welcome. When it happened to me, I was never sure whether it was just jealousy from less capable teachers, or whether they really did see it as their duty to make the kids do badly. Reading Andrew’s Old’s recent columns suggests to me that it was actually more the latter:

            https://teachingbattleground.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/how-the-education-establishment-supports-inequality/

          • Chris Taylor

            I remember a colleague of mine blaming the pupil for her poor GCSE grade in his subject. All her fault, unteachable, hopeless, nothing to do with him. I think he forgot that I taught the same girl and helped her achieve a B grade!

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            Still they only pay you £37,000 however good you think you are.

          • Whence in your shrivelled little mind does that snide little gem proceed?

        • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

          Modest too. Result monkey.

  • thresholdweller

    I have been a Chair of Governors of a village Priary school for over 20 years. I have only had time to scan then article, but it doesn’t seem that rooted in reality. We are all guilty of generalising from our particular experience I suppose.

    • kentgeordie

      Twenty years is a heck of a long time to be governor of the same school. Maybe it’s time for some fresh blood, and to put your experience to use elsewhere?

  • Cornelius Bonkers

    It’s well known that teachers are in general a bunch of PC Guardianistas – they have to be or they will have no “career” to speak of. Openly praising Gove is a bit like inviting the Black Death in that it attaches a severe infection which brings about your permanent isolation from your more right-on colleagues, i.e., most teachers, who suffer from two things: status anxiety over not being taken seriously as “professionals”; and the trade unions who have never defended them from abuse by government. Teachers now have to be unpaid social workers, police, parents, and exam necromancers – most are so confused and exhausted that they can’t function properly as educators. I’m glad I don’t have to pretend to teach any more…

    • Schoolswot

      “It’s well known that teachers are in general a bunch of PC Guardianistas”

      Only by dimwitted right wingers with a hatfull of cliches.

      • The_greyhound

        Indeed.

        Many teachers are too stupid and poorly educated themselves to deal even with the modest demands posed by an imbecile comic like the Grauniad.

        • Schoolswot

          “Many teachers are too stupid and poorly educated themselves”

          Oh look, another bit of non-evidence-based generalisation.

  • Mrs Crewe

    We have the same problem in teaching as in the NHS, the unions. In both cases the unions and the media in their pockets have consistently portrayed teachers and medical staff as poor hard done by people who have attained sainthood through their suffering and good works. They have attacked and vilified anyone who tried to challenge or question this interpretation and the result? Patients being killed through terrible medicine and generations of children leaving school not being able to read or write.
    Of course there are great teachers and medical staff, but by refusing to criticise the bad ones, and worse supporting them the unions have tarred all in their professions with the same brush. They have also instilled a culture of fear and dictatorship where anyone disagreeing with the unions will be hounded out.
    Gove was right, our education is a disgrace, we have an adult literacy rate to be ashamed of and a culture where to strive to achieve is frowned upon.

  • Freddythreepwood

    ‘doing to children what Thatcher did to the miners’.

    What they mean is ‘doing to teachers what Thatcher did to the miners’. ‘And not before time’, I hear the loud chorus from exasperated parents.

  • Chris Taylor

    The biggest barrier to good teaching is low level disruption. Unfortunately unless you are taught how to maintain classroom discipline teaching goes out of the window. Too many teachers in my experience desperately try to contain things by pandering to the children. They then excuse this by claiming they are building good relations and a positive ethos. This is nonsense. In 34 years of teaching I never once received any inset that dealt in a practical way with the classroom management issues teachers face every day. I suspect it would be seen as a failure to admit staff needed practical instruction. Instead there was an obsession with breaking tasks down into small pieces (starter exercises, plenaries etc.) which implied that pupils couldn’t (or wouldn’t) concentrate for more than 5 minutes. Senior staff don’t usually want the bother of dealing with struggling staff so a “it will have to do” attitude prevails which masks mediocrity.

  • kittylion

    Having retired from secondary teaching after thirty odd years in the profession, the biggest barrier I found to high expectations and pupils excelling was classroom behaviour. No government has been able to solve this one – not even Govey.

  • SaveOurSchoolsNZ

    Such an odd article. Does the writer not realise that teaching Keats to kids who cannot write a decent sentence is the concern, along with the idea that the only things that count are “the classics” with no room for what engages students. It’s written as though all schools have students that are the same; they do not, and having a curriculum that is inflexible helps no-one.

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