From Elsewhere: Gove is right. British education cannot be defended.

I’m admirer of the work of the Education Secretary Michael Gove.  He’s one of the few members of this current Conservative-led Cabinet, who I have any time or respect for.  This is because I am someone who experienced an education environment that was profoundly damaged by progressive child-centred educationalists, I’m fully behind Mr Gove’s desire that there be a return to both standards and intellectual vigor in British school education.

For too long children have been fobbed off by the worthless medals of debased exams, and teachers who appear to have an aversion to teaching.

The situation within British education is now so bad that one definition of a bad parent in my opinion would be one that doesn’t constantly scrutinise and challenge how their child is being taught.   A child’s education is far too vital to be left to teachers and the British educational system.  Gove’s reforms will pay more dividends for British children than all the guff spouted by establishment educationalists from the Plowden Report up until now.

I’ve experienced the British educational system and for me it stank, neither my child nor anybody else’s child should put up with the appalling educational standards that are the norm in too many schools.  Learning about Hitler from Mr Men books, in a secondary school? It beggars belief, but this has been the end result of the Plowden education ‘revolution’ that started in 1967.

We should wish for our children something far better than that which we get served up by the Teaching unions, the civil service and the educationalists.

Here is the full Michael Gove speech via the Spectator magazine.

“I find it hard to understand why anyone should wish to defend the state of the education system we inherited.
How can it be right that more than a fifth of children left primary school without having reached a basic level of literacy and numeracy?
We wouldn’t accept a fifth of hospital operations going wrong or a fifth of flights ending badly. So why should we accept a system in which school standards were still too low?
Is it right that two-fifths of students should have left school without a grade C in English and Maths GCSEs? These are the basic minimum level qualifications most employers or universities demand.
But almost 40% of children failed to secure them. And among the poorest children – those eligible for free school meals – a majority left school without these qualifications.
I don’t know anyone in this room – anyone in parliament – anyone leading a school or leading a teachers union who would accept their own child leaving school without this bare minimum. But we accepted this fate for hundreds of thousands of children every year.
Changing that – rescuing the next generation – giving them the foundation they need to succeed – that has been the driving moral purpose of our education reforms. And I challenge anyone to explain to me why that is wrong, indeed why we shouldn’t be more driven and more determined to end this waste of human potential.
And yet people do. People do still say we’re being too demanding and driving too hard.
We have university academics – indeed the chairs of organisations like the National Association for the Teaching of English – saying that we should not introduce 15 and 16 year old children to Charles Dickens because his work will put them off literature for life.
We have historians who will defend teaching World War one to secondary school children through the medium of Blackadder and providers of historical teaching materials who argue GCSE students should learn about Hitler through the medium of Mr Men books.
We have political opponents who argue that expecting 16 year olds to get GCSEs in English, Maths, Science, a language and one of the humanities is creating a barrier to success and setting up children to fail.
Believe me, I know what real barriers to success look like. I spent the first four months of my life in care. Both my parents had to leave school at 15. My sister spent all her school career set apart from other children who were just as bright as her in a school for children with special needs. And I know what setting children up to fail looks like.
It’s sending working class children to school without daring to think they might be intellectually curious and capable of greatness, denying them access to anything stretching or ambitious, setting expectations so low you can never be surprised by someone’s potential, giving children flimsy photocopied worksheets instead of proper rigorous textbooks, feeding them a diet of dumbed-down courses and easy to acquire qualifications, lowering pass marks and inflating grades to give the illusion of progress, shying away from anything which might require grit, application, hard work and perseverance and then sending these poor children into the adult world without the knowledge, skills, character and accomplishments they need, and deserve, to flourish.
That is setting children up to fail. And that is what I will not tolerate.”

Read the rest here:


8 Comments on "From Elsewhere: Gove is right. British education cannot be defended."

  1. I used to respect him too, mainly because of his book Celsius 7/7 – his memory is not terribly good as he seems to have forgotten about what he wrote then – see the current scandal. He completely lost it with me when I found out about the picture of Lenin he is staring at in his office – for historical reasons apparently…he might as well put a pic of Hitler there for the same reasons. I also see a big problem with independent schools… they should be at least non-religious.
    Otherwise you are right, no child deserves to be let down by the educational system but one of the main problems is the discipline and the children know all about their rights…Miss, you can’t touch me…

    • Fahrenheit211 | June 8, 2014 at 6:25 pm |

      I concur with you about Lenin being the Hitler of his day. Although the Shoah ws the greatest ever individual crime against humanity, Marxist-Leninism is probably one of the greatest criminal systems. I disagree about independent schools as it is the right of a parent to choose which school they want. Personally I’d like to see a big time return for the Assisted Places Scheme which gave high flying children from low earning backgrounds the chance to attend a high quality public school. The issue of religious schools was never a huge issue outside of Northern Ireland until Islam arrived on the scene. I believe a parent should have the right to choose a school that fits with their religious ethos. Yes there have been problems with religious schools, such as Catholic schools giving incomplete lessons on reproduction and some Haredi Jewish schools not teaching about evolution, but these problems have been dwarfed by the political and religious radicalisation that has been going on in Islamic schools. Education is yet another area where Islam has taken advantage of the good will of others and turned schools into virtual training camps for separatism and supremacism.

      I think the idea of the council school governed by an often politically ideological Local Education Authority is not sustainable in an era where people want more choice as to how their children are educated. I’d like to see the local education authority die as an entity and the money follow the child. Why shouldn’t people choose, for example a mix of homeschooling and school-based education in a form of flexible mix?

  2. …but these problems have been dwarfed by the political and religious radicalisation that has been going on in Islamic schools. Education is yet another area where Islam has taken advantage of the good will of others and turned schools into virtual training camps for separatism and supremacism.

    spot on…how do we deal with this one?

    • Fahrenheit211 | June 9, 2014 at 7:48 am |

      I think that it is time to start making exceptions where there are obvious problems. By that I mean not treating Islam or its organisations or representatives the same as we would treat those of other more peaceful beliefs. For example this could mean not giving Imams the same rights as functionaries of other faiths in things like access to prisons for pastoral care etc. It would mean treating Islam with much more justified suspicion than those who profess other beliefs. It pains me to say it as I’ve always believed that a person should be free to hold whatever religious beliefs they choose provided they don’t ‘frighten the horses’. Sadly, we see too often Islamic functionaries, organisations, schools and charities which look fair on the surface but are extremely foul when you examine them more closely.

      There is a precedent for this which is the legal, political and social disadvantages that Roman Catholics were subject to prior to the various Emancipation Acts in the 19th century. For years the Pope angled for the reconversion of Britain and it was only when Catholicism was no longer a political problem or a threat, that Catholicism became fully legal and on the same footing (apart from monarchical succession) as Protestants.

      That should not mean that it should be open season on individual Muslims, nobody of any humanity would wish to see another Kristalnacht aimed at those who just happen to be Muslim, but we should cease to break bread with or give political influence to Islamic groups who too often say one thing to an audience of non-Muslims and quite another thing to Muslim audiences.

      There is a justifiable suspicion of the ideology of Islam and we see examples of why there is this suspicion every day, the Islamic school ‘trojan horse’ incidence is just the latest in a long line of incidents where Islamic groups scream ‘unfairness’ whilst not playing fair themselves.

      I’d close down either all or the majority of Islamic schools, because they have proved themselves to be dodgy and the same should apply to many of these iffy Islamic ‘charities’. Much of what needs doing such as specific targetting of troublesome ideologies cannot be achieved whilst Britain is subject to the European Court of Human Rights. We cannot treat the ideology of Islam like the threat it is unless we can free ourselves from the oversight of a legal entity that started out brilliantly and was set up for all the right reasons but which has over time become increasingly dominated by the political Left and those who see the concept of sovereign nations as anathema.

  3. “the deaths of over 100,000,000 victims in an unprecedented imperial communist holocaust”.

    • Fahrenheit211 | June 9, 2014 at 7:52 am |

      Like I said earlier, the Shoah was the greatest individual crime against humanity, but Communism was the most deadly criminal system. It riles me greatly to see fools wearing Che tee shirts and it not being a reason for being made a social pariah whereas wearing a Hitler tee shirt would mean you were ostracised from decent society. It is a double standard that means the Left is not subjected to the same scrutiny that is applied elsewhere on the political spectrum.

      • I’m gonna see if I can Photoshop a beret and scraggly hair onto a photo of Hitler, or indeed a toothbrush tache onto che. I doubt if anyone under fourth would notice. Kids don’t receive any inoculation against totalitarianism these days, just left is good/right is bad.

        • Fahrenheit211 | June 9, 2014 at 8:46 am |

          That’s the key word, ‘totalitarianism’ the Left / Right bit can get a bit foggy as there was extreme ‘statism’ in both Soviet Communism and Italian fascism.

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