Will Gove’s Empire Outlast Him ?


This started as a small idea, and grew into a bit of a monster rant. I’d advise making yourself a cup of tea before reading. For those members of society with better things to do than waste ten minutes on my waffling, here’s a summary :

Some argue Gove’s reforms won’t last long without him. I argue that GERM reforms come in two flavours : ideological/religious, and financial/self-interested. The former classroom-based reforms may well change rapidly because GERM ideology is inconsistent, unpopular, faith-based not evidence-based, and even GERM zealots disagree with each other on various issues. The latter structural reforms are likely here to stay because they have created a cadre of self-interested “winners” who have a vested interest in defending the new system. I also pepper the argument with historical references which made a lot of sense in my head. Sorry. Continue reading

Mossbourne Academy : the model for us all ?

Ah, Mossbourne. It’s time to talk about Mossbourne. After all, everyone else does. It is, without question, politicians’ favourite school for posing with children to underline both their fundamental humanity, and also their commitment to “rigour”, “standards”, “Wilshaw” and all the rest of the meaningless clichés which have come to replace any mature, evidence-based policy-making in education. Continue reading

Harris the Hero?

Recently, Michael Gove wrote what may have been his own epitaph in the Guardian. It was an article about his “hero”, Philip Harris, who was ennobled for services to the Conservative Party (he was/is a major donor to the party). Harris has been given control of the budgets of more than a dozen schools under Gove’s regime, including several who were forced kicking and screaming into the Harris empire against the will of parents, governors and staff. This famously modest man instantly renamed all the schools he took over after, er, himself. He then took on an equally modest figure in Daniel Moynihan, his chief executive, who pays himself the generous salary of more than £300k (last figures some time ago – now probably more), who I once met when he didn’t know I was a teacher. The way he spoke of teachers – all teachers – in that meeting left an indelible mark. Hence my interest in Harris. Continue reading

Gove the Incompetent

Michael Gove always fancied himself a keen amateur historian. His back-of-an-envelope first comedy draft of the new history curriculum demonstrated the amateur bit very well. So he’ll appreciate that when an English ruler is awarded a title to follow their name (Alfred the Great, Richard the Lionheart), then it’s because they managed to stand out from amongst their peers. I personally think Gove also managed to stand out from amongst post-war education secretaries. So I offer the epithet : “Gove the Incompetent” as a suggestion, to mark his truly impressive four years of catastrophe and disaster. Continue reading

Tristram Hunt : a historian who doesn’t use evidence ?

This morning, the Sutton Trust report on academy chains was produced. It’s a weighty piece, which anyone can read from their website.

Sutton Trust Report

Being an education anorak, I read it. Then I saw this tweet from Tristram Hunt :

 “Today’s Sutton Trust report – more evidence of the transformational impact of Labour’s sponsor academies programme on disadvantaged children”

And I almost wept. Continue reading