I make no secret of the fact that I back Michael Gove’s reforms of education all the way. If I had any criticism of them then it would be that he didn’t go far enough in his reforms. I would have liked to see the last vestiges of Plowdenism swept from our schools, seen teachers recruited from all walks of life and trained within schools and not within a university environment. I would like to see a return to selection at 11 or 12 and a greater emphasis on imparting the sort of ‘building block’ knowledge which is plain to see provides a solid base for future learning. It would improve Britain’s standing in the world if our education system was not tied to educational ideologies that have given us such failures as having 1 in 5 adults who are functionally illiterate according to a 2012 study by the NGO the World Literacy Foundation.
I support the Gove and similar reforms because I had the ‘Full Plowden’ afflicting my education. Primary education was virtually ‘content free’ and a happy clappy permissive environment did nothing to improve attention towards the little content that was actually in the lessons. I suffered from teachers who appeared to believe that grammar was a form of social oppression and that it was uncool to have to show how you came to a result in mathematics. A long stream of unpunctuated gibberish was as acceptable in English lessons, as a wild but approximate guess was acceptable in Maths.
I’ve seen and experienced just how badly served British children and British adults have been by the progressive child-centred educational policies that have been embedded at the heart of our educational system. Gove, really tried to change that situation in a manner that few education secretaries have done before. Not even Margaret Thatcher’s powerful and muscular government could deal with the Left dominated Education department. The national curriculum that was supposed to bring back vigour to education, was watered down and subverted by so-called experts from the educational establishment. The result of not reigning in the educational Leftists was a shallow and sometimes over politically correct curriculum that ill prepares young people for their future lives, along with a debased examination system that was worse than the two tier GCE O Level and Certificate of Secondary Education qualifications that they replaced.
It is instructive to note just who is celebrating Gove’s departure from education. It is the same left wingers in the teaching unions and the same university based teacher trainers who have been part of the causes of the problems that Gove set out to tackle.
Graham Paton the Daily Telegraph’s education correspondent said:
“Today, Christine Blower, the union’s general secretary, said Mr Gove had “clearly lost the support of the profession and parents for justifiable reasons”.
“His vision for education is simply wrong,” she said. “His pursuit of the unnecessary and often unwanted free schools and academies programme, the use of unqualified teachers, the failure to address the school place crisis and endless ill-thought out reforms to examinations and the curriculum has been his hallmark in office.
“Michael Gove’s search for headlines over speaking to the profession has clearly angered teachers. We remain in dispute over the direction of Government policy, which we believe is undermining the education service.”
According to an NUT poll earlier this year, some 79 per cent of teachers believe the Coalition has had a “negative impact on the education system”.
Does Ms Blower’s words look like those of a person whose primary concern is the progress of her pupils or do they look like the words of a person who cares more for socialist ideology than the future success of those that her members are charged with teaching? I think many will say that it is plain that her priorities are the ideology not the children.
Of course 79 per cent of teachers believe that the Coalition’s educational policies are wrong, why would anybody believe that those committed to a Leftist union like the NUT would think otherwise. This figure also shows that a significant majority of NUT members are not concerned with seeing a pragmatic policy of ‘what works’ applied to education, but who only wish to continue to fail our children by afflicting them with an education system that has no choice, no accountability and no standards.
The Left both in the form of teaching unions and the educationalists have ruined the tripartite system that gave an accelerated academic education to those who were gifted, provided a technical education for those of a technological bent and where the secondary modern schools gave a basic education to the rest. A secondary modern education did not consign a child to the dustbin of life, as the Left would have us believe. Night school and voluntary further education was how those secondary modern pupils who were ‘late developers’ could continue to learn if they chose.
The comprehensive system has failed, local education authorities have failed, mixed ability teaching has failed and child centred education has failed. The reasons for these failures can be fairly and squarely laid at the feet of educational leftists, often middle class educational leftists, who have for too long been allowed to undertake social experiments with our educational system. It was the working classes who have suffered in the ‘brave new world’ of the post-Plowden’ educational environment.
There is no way on earth would I want my child to have the education that I had. My experience was appalling both in the quality of it and the political bias. We had a teacher of European languages and European history who was a senior member of the local NUT who was permitted both by the headteacher and the local (Labour) educational authority to use Communist propaganda from the German Democratic Republic as a teaching aid. I’m still angry that too many cohorts of children who that teacher taught, learned about Germany not from the perspective of the free state of West Germany, but from the perspective of the Stalinists of East Germany. ‘GDR Review’ was not and could never have been a suitable educational resource. I would say that the NUT was riddled with dangerous left-wingers then and judging by the way the NUT is celebrating Gove’s departure, they are still the same now.
Those who created Britain’s educational disaster are the ones who are most pleased that Gove has gone from education, that should tell all parents a lot about such people. Parents should be extremely concerned about Michael Gove’s departure and seeing Christine Blower crowing out this story is enough to make me more of a fan of children being home-schooled. At least if a child is home-schooled they are not being ‘taught’ to a standard that sometimes barely qualifies a child to be employed in pushing a broom round.
Am I bitter about my own educational experience? Of course I am and I’m depressed to see the the sort of politics and ideology that made my education so unsatisfactory, about to be inflicted on even more children.
Daily Telegraph story
A 1984 copy of ‘GDR Review’ of the type that was inflicted on students at my secondary school.