Tuesday, December 11, 2012

gove’s ideological mission

Very many apologies.
I’ve not blogged about Mr Gove for more than a month.
This is obviously a huge oversight on my part because it seems that various sections of the right-wing press are talking about the Education Secretary as a “rising star” and a future Conservative Party leader.
For some time now, I’ve been frightened by what I regard as Gove’s “stealth policy” to privatise UK schools. This might seem a somewhat extreme view, but Peter Wilby’s article in last Saturday’s Guardian addressed similar concerns:
“Gove's policies for schools are almost as far-reaching as Lansley's for health, amounting to a Whitehall takeover of a service that, for well over a century, has been run by local authorities. Private providers, accountable through contracts with Gove and his successors, will play a central role”.
And there’s more:
“His mission is essentially an ideological, not an educational one. By removing schools from local authority control – nearly half of all secondary-age pupils already attend academies or free schools – he opens the way for chains of private providers to expand their role dramatically, just as NHS reforms do. There is no evidence that any of the chains, despite slick public relations, improve school results significantly. The best that can be said is that, at least in the short term, they don't make things much worse. Gove's policies are not, as his fiercer critics claim, a disaster for our children. They are just an irrelevance and, with £8.3bn already spent on the academies programme in two years, a monumental waste of money”.
Meanwhile, it was interesting to read an article by Roy Glatter (emeritus professor of educational administration and management at The Open University), entitled "Education Reforms: Where is the Evidence and Consensus?" in yesterday’s Guardian Teacher Network. As well as questioning Gove’s policies, he also pointed to criticisms of his policy on exams and assessment from some unexpected sources (including exams regulator Glenys Stacey):  
“Earlier a major CBI report said there was a ‘conveyor belt approach’ to the school system with too narrow a definition of success. Instead of making GCSE tougher it should be abolished with the emphasis placed on age 18. In a newspaper interview Louise Robinson, president of the Girls' School Association, said Gove was forcing a 1960s curriculum and exam structure on schools. We needed to look to the future not the past. Finally the headmaster of Eton College Tony Little told a national conference that we were stifling pupils' creativity by sitting them down in exam halls for two or three hours in a ‘very Victorian way’. We needed to show much more imagination in courses and assessment and he wanted GCSE to be abolished in its present form”.
As I’ve said before: “Be afraid, be very afraid”!

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