Tag Archives: michael gove

Fraser Nelson’s must-read guide to utterly and completely misunderstanding the Lib Dems’ Coalition strategy

Fraser Nelson has written a must-read guide to utterly and completely misunderstanding the Lib Dems’ Coalition strategy today. My guess is he’s reliant on Tory intelligence, which in this case is an oxymoron.

Much of it is the usual half-fair/half-unfair admixture of insults regularly thrown at the Lib Dems by the right-wing media. We are, says Fraser, “a hodge-podge of a party defined by its lack of definition”, “conservative in Somerset and socialist in Solihull” (has he met Lorely Burt?). Unlike the Conservatives, of course, where the small-l-liberal outlook of Ken Clarke and Nick Boles dovetails perfectly with the …

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It’s Laws v Gove again as Lib Dem schools minister says academy chains should be accountable to Ofsted

‘It’s civil war in the Coalition classroom’ – that’s how the Independent bills the latest row between those two very civil politicians running the education department, Conservative secretary of state Michael Gove and Lib Dem schools minister David Laws.

I wrote at the weekend about the first spat, which erupted after Michael Gove’s decision to sack Baroness (Sally) Morgan as chair of Ofsted for doing too good a job – at least, that seemed to be the gist of his argument, as he praised her to the skies for her “superlative” work before saying it was time for a …

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Gove and Laws scrap it out on front pages over sacking of Ofsted head. Here’s what the row is all about.

Today’s newspaper front pages are full of the scrap taking place at the heart of the Department for Education between Conservative secretary of state Michael Gove and Lib Dem schools minister David Laws:

gove laws - papers

  • Ofsted row: Lib Dems furious at Conservative plan to ‘politicise’ classrooms (Independent on Sunday)
  • Lib Dems savage Gove over sacked schools boss (The Sunday Times, £)
  • Angry Lib Dems accuse Michael Gove of bid to politicise education (Observer)
  • Why is there a row?

    On Friday night, The Independent broke the news that Baroness (Sally) Morgan, the Labour

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    Opinion: A letter to Michael Gove

    Dear Michael,

    I hope this finds you well.

    A confession.

    Unlike Paxman, I’m a fan.

    You’re an unusual Tory with unusual origins. And your passion to change education is laudable.

    The 1960s Crosland reforms, implemented by your mentor Mrs Thatcher, were supposed to promote social mobility. The reality is mixed. Overall literacy and numeracy have improved. Higher education has become more accessible across class, gender and race.

    But this has come at a cost. Some think general mediocrity is better than a few attaining excellence while the majority attain little. I think it’s still mediocrity. Employers lament school-leavers’ inadequate skills. Our performance in the Pisa education …

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    Opinion: Politicians should keep out of history debates

    Michael GoveMichael Gove’s intervention into the complex historical debate over the First World War was as bizarre as it was ignorant. Gove attacked ‘left wing historians’ for promoting the Blackadder (a satirical sitcom, not, unless I am mistaken, a documentary) viewpoint that thousands of young Brits were consigned to an early grave by an out of touch elite. The issue with Gove’s comments weren’t his interpretation of history, which is certainly arguable, but the idea that history and commemoration should be used to score political points.

    It is the diversity of opinions and interpretations within historical scholarship which makes it such an interesting and enriching subject. One does not have to be a Marxist politically to appreciate the contribution Marxist historians have made to historical study, rather, these historians make up a small part of a multiplicity of opinions based on rigorous historical research.

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    Telegraph: Clegg and Cameron have to intervene in “daily” Coalition rows

    The Telegraph has a story today that is rather perplexingly filed under “news” but seems like a summary of what we knew already.

    David Cameron and Nick Clegg spend a “disproportionate” amount of their time attempting to resolve rows in the Home Office and Department for Education, in particular, sources said.

    Disagreements have also affected policy-making inside the Department for Energy and Climate Change, while rows between Lib Dem and Tory ministers from different departments are a frequent feature of government life, sources said.

    The difference in tone between the two sources quoted is interesting. The Tory source is snarky as anything:


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    David Laws writes… Nick Clegg and I have always been clear that Free Schools must also be fair schools

    On Thursday this week, Nick Clegg will set out the Liberal Democrat approach to improving standards in schools.

    He will set out what parents and pupils should expect from schools. This is an issue we have worked on together for some time, and which was debated and agreed at our party’s conference this Spring.

    The Liberal Democrats are instinctive supporters of freedom, diversity and choice. We believe in giving schools more autonomy and teachers more freedom.

    That’s why we have supported extra powers to innovate for free schools and academies and have taken steps in government to extend autonomy for all schools. We …

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    Nice try, George. But the Pupil Premium is happening only because the Lib Dems are in government

    Osborne -  Some rights reserved by altogetherfoolWho has made sure the Pupil Premium is being delivered in Government? Pretty straightforward question, you might think: the Liberal Democrats. Not if you’re George Osborne, though…

    “I sit at that Cabinet table and I know who has really put forward the policies that are delivering a fairer society. The pupil premium to support the most disadvantaged children: that was Michael Gove’s idea, front and centre of the last Conservative manifesto.” (30 Sept 2013)

    Erm… okay, George. Let’s take those two claims in order.

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    Opinion: Performance related pay for teachers: does it drive up standards?

    Michael Gove’s most recent big idea to improve the teaching profession takes the form of performance related pay. Like many of Gove’s big ideas it has incensed teachers. But it’s also a populist move. One poll estimated that 61% of voters backed the idea. But will it improve teaching standards?

    The evidence for performance related pay leading to improving standards in education is inconclusive. Literature shows no causal relationship between performance related pay and standards and results vary enormously depending on the context. In India one study showed that “after controlling for student ability, parental background and the resources available …

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    Stephen Lloyd MP writes…Break point for Religious Education

    Watching Andy Murray storm to victory over Novak Djokovic on centre court, I couldn’t help drawing some unlikely parallels with one of my own passions – the plight of religious education.

    Like Andy Murray, RE has suffered from outdated perceptions. In Murray’s case an off-the-cuff comment to a tabloid journalist in 2006 unfairly implanted the perception of a grumpy, vehemently anti-English Scotsman in the eyes of millions.

    RE has suffered from a similar misrepresentation. Some people would like you to believe that the subject is about indoctrination and teaching young people to be religious. Often these views are simply outdated, stemming from …

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    Opinion: Changes for the Better – LibDem wins on the new National Curriculum

    schoolsign“I still have serious reservations about it, but it’s a whole lot better than when Gove originally launched the consultation” – a headteacher friend summing up his feelings about the newly announced National Curriculum for schools. We know, behind the scenes, just how the Liberal Democrats in the Coalition have influenced some of the most significant changes. It’s time to let your teacher and parent friends know the difference the LibDems have made.

    One big win is that this new curriculum is so much shorter than Labour’s (468 to 224 pages). The history curriculum has been rewritten to include local and world history, and to recognise diversity. Speaking and Listening are back in the English curriculum. Creativity is stressed in Art, Music and Drama, and Design has been rewritten to include a broader range of industrial applications.

    Primary schools can now choose the foreign language they wish to teach – or even look at several languages. Climate change has been returned to the Geography curriculum. Biodiversity and seasonality of food and produce are added to the curriculum for the first time.

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    Opinion: Does the School Food Plan really ban packed lunches?

    school mealsIf you’re an independent person involved in writing a report for Government, I offer some advice. Take a holiday for the week after the report’s published. Somewhere remote. Ideally without internet.

    How else to avoid your blood-pressure shooting through the roof as the media – both social and traditional – ignore 99% of your work and misrepresent the rest?

    For the latest example, look no further than the School Food Plan, a 149 page practical guide to improving the health and attainment of young people by improving their diet in …

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    Farron asks Gove to put mental health on the school curriculum

    Last Friday a new charity, providing online counselling to teenagers with mental health issues, launched in London. Mindfull, run by the team behind BeatBullying, built the service after feedback young people themselves. We’re talking about a third of our young people either self-harming or contemplating suicide because they are feeling so bad. The case stories in the report give some idea of how that feels:

    Jessica was 14 when she started to feel very down. She didn’t tell anyone about the way she was feeling until she was 15, and even though she started to have suicidal thoughts it took

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    Schools for profit? Not on my watch, says Nick Clegg

    From today’s Independent:

    Nick Clegg vowed today to veto any move by the Conservatives to allow academies and free schools to become profit-making businesses.

    The Deputy Prime Minister intervened after The Independent revealed that Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, is considering plans to redraw the rules to allow the schools to use hedge funds and venture capitalists to raise money.

    The Liberal Democrats will block any moves to change the rules before the 2015 general election.  During the election campaign, Mr Clegg’s party will claim that they acted as a brake on the Tories inside the Coalition.  “We will say we stopped

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    A free-for-all on school term dates?

    schoolsignMichael Gove has had another ‘good idea’, produced without any reference to the professionals who will have to implement it, nor to the general public who will have to work around it. This time he is keen to allow all schools to set their own term dates, in line with the freedom already granted to academies and free schools.

    It sounds like a superficial change, but those of us who have examined the issue in depth know that the implications could be far greater than you might imagine.

    Some eight years ago I attended a series of meetings of councillors who, like me, held education portfolios in London boroughs.  Our aim was to co-ordinate school term dates across the whole of London, and, wherever possible, with the surrounding counties, and we did achieve that.  At the same time we looked at patterns of terms, considering some quite radical alternatives, such as six or seven equal length terms, with a shorter break in the summer.

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    Clegg leadership plot: Gove’s ‘crazy grenade’ detonates, briefly, before Tories revert to arguing about Europe

    Hats off to Mr Gove! With the Tory party in its customary state of internecine warfare over Europe, the education secretary used his interview this morning on The Andrew Marr Show to allege a leadership plot to overthrow Nick Clegg. Here’s PoliticsHome’s account:

    Michael Gove has suggested Nick Clegg’s opposition to increasing childminders-toddlers ratio is due to an internal Liberal Democrat plot to unseat him as leader.

    Mr Clegg said last week that he was “yet to be persuaded” by the case for allowing staff to look after more children.

    However Mr Gove today said the reforms, which were defended by

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    Opinion: Three flaws in the Government’s education reforms

    One of the things that seems to characterise Tory ministers in this government is a remarkable attraction to putting ideology and an assumption that they know best ahead of little details like “facts” and “evidence based policy”.

    A good example of this comes in the form of Michael Gove’s education reforms which have been characterised by a breathtaking disregard for decades of research into what works and an aversion to listening to anything or anyone who disagrees with the reforms.

    Nevertheless, I’d like to highlight the following facts about education. It would be nice if he paid attention:

    Starting maths early damages educational

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    How Ofsted outperforms the Department for Education in the email stakes

    Yesterday I blogged about how only a third of emailed newsletters and circulars sent out by the Department for Education to schools and teachers are read by the recipients.

    I also mentioned that you could choose who to blame for the low readership rate:

    Who is to blame for this? If nothing else I suspect these figures are a good test of your political instincts: are you already thinking the blame lies with Michael Gove and the Department for Education for not making their messages more compelling or with the teachers who aren’t reading them in greater numbers?

    One way of helping …

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    Two-thirds of email newsletters sent to teachers and schools by the Department for Education are not read

    Email inboxOnly a third of emailed newsletters and circulars sent out by the Department for Education to schools and teachers are read by the recipients according to new figures I have secured following a Freedom of Information request to the Department.

    In 2012 the Department sent out 148,182 such emails, with their systems recording 49,504 of them as having  been read at least once (33%).

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    David Laws MP writes… Ambitious for every child

    Liberal Democrats are determined to ensure that all our pupils can access qualifications that measure up to the best in the world today.

    But existing GCSEs have weakened over time. Colleges and employers tell us they don’t prepare young people properly for work or further education. While GCSE results have increased steadily, England’s results in the internationally recognised PISA tests have remained flat. This cannot be fair for young people who are working hard to achieve their best.

    GCSEs need to change: the question is how.

    The original plan to bring back the O-Level was unacceptable. A two-tier system that divides pupils into …

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    Gove forced into GCSE U-turn ‘under Lib Dem pressure’

    The morning’s big news is that Conservative education secretary Michael Gove is set to announce a U-turn today on his plans to scrap the current GCSE exams and replace them with a new EBacc qualification in 2015. Here‘s how the Independent reports it:

    The Education Secretary bowed to overwhelming pressure for a rethink from Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, the exams regulator Ofqual and MPs from all parties. It is understood that he decided to act after being warned by civil servants that one key plank of his reforms – handing each of the core subjects over to just

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    Opinion: Michael Gove’s plans are a disaster for schools

    Credit ITN

    The publication last week of the All-Party Parliamentary Select Committee’s damning report into changes in qualifications at 16, signals a step-change in attitudes towards Michael Gove’s so-called ‘Education Revolution.’

    The report makes for unsettling reading from a Liberal Democrat point of view.  And even Tory MP Graham Stuart, Chair of the Education Committee warns:

    We have serious concerns about the Government’s proposed timetable for change. Ministers want to introduce a new qualification, require a step-change in standards, and alter the way exams are administered, all at the same time. We believe

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    Opinion: Making the EBacc work

    Michael Gove seems intent on bringing forward a replacement for the GCSE, going so far as to make its introduction a matter of confidence in the face of criticism.  All parties can agree, however, it is important to set out what these reforms should look like and make sure they deliver a qualification that is fit for purpose.

    There are at least two key areas that I think Liberal Democrats should seek to influence.

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    Cable voices concern over faith school intake

    The Guardian reports on what it (somewhat exaggeratedly) terms a “furious row” between business secretary Vince Cable and Michael Gove, the education secretary:

    A row has broken out within the coalition over the expansion of faith-based schools, with the business secretary, Vince Cable, writing a furious letter to Michael Gove‘s education department accusing him of flouting the 2010 coalition deal.

    Department for Education officials, acting on Gove’s direct orders, had undermined the Liberal Democrat/Conservative deal by intervening to ensure a pair of proposed Catholic schools

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    Opinion: Pity Gove’s 400?

    You may have seen the list of the 400 “worst primaries in England”, according to M. Gove.  If not, you can download it here: Primaries.

    I am not about to re-visit the bone of contention that is academy status among Lib Dem colleagues, but I do think we have to look very carefully at the whole issue of forcing schools to become academies–and look at it as Liberal Democrats, who value both devolution of powers and liberalism.

    I know that those to the right of the party will say that there is …

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    Your essential weekend reader — 12 must-read articles you may have missed

    It’s Saturday morning, so here are twelve thought-provoking articles to stimulate your thinking juices…

    The lottery of life: Where to be born in 2013The Economist‘s annual list of the top quality-of-life countries: ‘Being rich helps more than anything else, but it is not all that counts; things like crime, trust in public institutions and the health of family life matter too.’ Britain comes 27th. (The Telegraph has a picture-only version here.)

    The burdens that Israel should not have to bearBrendan

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    Michael Gove declares war on curves (square corners are OK though)

    Bizarre micro-management at its worst, courtesy of Michael Gove.

    Now, it’s easy to see why he’s keen to seen if schools can be built at lower costs. It’s also easy to see how a bit more standardisation between different new school designs could reduce costs.

    So looking for more standardisation in design? No problem.

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    Clegg and Gove show united front on plan to overhaul GCSEs

    Nick Clegg and Michael Gove will today present a carefully joined up front as they present proposals to overhaul GCSEs. In June, the two clashed after the education secretary let slip his desire to return to O-levels, swiftly dubbed ‘Gove-levels’. The Lib Dem leader immediately dismissing any notion of a return to a two-tier system exam system which would have likely resulted in high numbers of poorer children in the most disadvantaged areas sitting the CSE exams which would close off their opportunities for later progress into higher education and many professional careers. Their row may also have contributed to …

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    Opinion: Grade inflation must stop, but not artificially

    For the first time in its twenty-six year history, the proportion of A*—C GCSE grades fell on Thursday. Michael Gove, who has been talking about grade inflation since the dawn of time, must have felt vindicated. A ‘cosy cartel’ of exam boards, head teachers and ministers has resulted in a seemingly inexorable upward trajectory of student performance. This year’s results, Gove’s supporters will suggest, reflect his work in dismantling this arrangement of mutual back scratching.

    The UK has an issue with grade inflation. Although Britain’s position in the OECD/Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey substantially fell between 2000 and …

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    The English Baccalaureate is a Mickey Mouse qualification

    Almost two years ago, a fortnight after my daughter confirmed her GCSE choices; Michael Gove announced his latest bright idea for the nation’s schoolchildren. The English Baccalaureate was originally intended to ‘be the equivalent of the old School Leaving Certificate’, but the EBacc, as it became known, has turned into just another of Gove’s personal follys, greeted with less than lukewarm enthusiasm by pupils, teachers, parents and employers.

    I’m all for pupils studying a good range of subjects, at a level that reflects their abilities and supports their future studies and career paths. But the EBacc does nothing for pupils or schools, except provide another stick to beat them with, as Gove always intended. The cat has been let permanently out of the DfE bag with the ‘clarification’ that the EBacc is intended as ‘a performance measure’ and ‘not a qualification in its own right’.

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