Forest of Dean & Wye Valley


In R.Richardson on July 3, 2013 at 12:41 pm

As Tribune recently commented, “Michael Gove’s revolutionary zeal shows no sign of slowing down.”

A proposal earlier this month to change the GCSE grading system to a numerical one would, said Mr. Gove, address the problem of “a low grade of expectation in the past”. A and A* grades would be replaced by levels one to four. Quite how this would raise standards is unclear.

In an article in the Mail on Sunday, Michael Gove expressed concern at teenagers’ ignorance of history. When his Department was asked the source of this damning research, it could only identify a 2008 survey by TV Gold which included all age groups. Other possible sources were a survey by the hotel chain, Premier Inns, and one carried out by Sea Cadets reported in the Daily Telegraph!

Spelling and grammar tests under the present regime are to be given precedence over any other form of literary assessment in primary schools. Mark Steele wrote a sarcastic article in the Independent showing how over-attention to grammatical correctness can destroy any enjoyment in reading and writing.

Gove protested at the “infantilism” of the school curriculum at a conference for independent school heads. He would prefer, he said, to see a child reading George Eliot’s Middlemarch than books like Stephanie Meyer’s “Twilight” series (written with a teenage audience in mind). He hit out at exam boards who seldom set pre-20th Century novels or plays in their GCSE syllabuses.


Meanwhile the fallout from the growth of academies and free schools continues. One of the country’s biggest academy sponsors, E-ACT, has been censured for extravagant over-spending. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money have been spent inappropriately on items such as unapproved consultancy fees, first class rail travel and monthly lunches at the prestigious Reform Club. A spokesman from the ATL union said that the funding pose serious doubts about the Government’s ability to police such academy chains.

The banner “Hove vs. Gove” was raised in East Sussex, over plans to concrete over a playing field in order to build a new free school. Currently the playing field is shared by four local schools, and is also used as a “village green” by the community. There was no consultation, and not surprisingly locals are up in arms. “We’ve already had three offers for people to climb the trees and refuse to be moved,” said a spokesman for the Friends of the Field group.


Many parliamentary questions have been directed at Michael Gove, and the chair of the House of Commons Procedures Committee has commented on the “poor performance” of the educational team in answering them. Earlier this year the committee issued an official censure, and legal action to improve the Department of Education’s record has not been ruled out. A senior Whitehall official told the “i” newspaper that Mr Gove’s department was in danger of “resembling an information black hole”.



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