My thoughts on Mr Gove…

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I have an issue at the moment, and that is the fact that teachers seem to continuously want to bash Michael Gove and all he stands for.

I am fed up with it. Our state schools, on the whole, are not good enough. Not only is it clear that in terms of global competition we seriously fall short – in October last year it was reported that “England is 22nd for literacy and 21st for numeracy out of 24 countries”, but also from looking at current Further Education cohorts.

There are thousands of talented, bright and capable students completing vocational programmes in our FE colleges, but there also thousands of 16-18 year olds who have the maths and English capabilities of 10 year olds. Young people who have spent the last 5 years in secondary education doing, well, what? How can so many young people pass through a system to come out at exactly the same level as they went in?

I spent the entirety of my school years in independent education, my experience of state education consists of working as a TA in an inner city London school and my last 6 years in FE. So admittedly I have a narrow perspective. However, the number of young people I have worked with who have been systematically let down by the schools they attend is more than enough evidence for me that things need to change.

Why is it so bad for Mr Gove to ask for state schools to aspire to be more like independent schools? Independent schools are brilliant, their results say that much! But they also offer so many more opportunities for children to broaden their horizons. I recently found some paperwork that my parents received after I took a careers guidance test at school – it was incredibly accurate! I went skiing every year, rowed, played a range of sports, took part in young enterprise events, went on countless trips, went climbing and gorge walking to name just a few activities. I know that my parents’ income had a large role to play in this, but my horizons were broadened in a way that never would have happened in the state system. Why oh why is it so wrong for anyone to hope that the standards at state schools will start to move towards the standards of private schools?

When I was doing my teaching qualification, the lecturer set us a starter task of listing three things school taught us. My list was:

1. Confidence
2. How to ski well
3. A good speaking voice

The rest of the group, who had all been educated in the state sector, had lists that included items such as how to escape bullies, how to fight, how to get away without doing any work. I was horrified. It was the first time I realised just how lucky I had been as a child.

It seems to me that state teachers are acting in a naturally defensive manner, they don’t want to be told that what they are doing isn’t good enough. That is understandable, but when the truth is, that what they are doing isn’t good enough, then they need to accept that change must occur. After all, the best state schools are ones whose curriculums and values are more closely aligned with the independent sector than the state sector.

When I have children, I will do everything I can to ensure that they can go to private school. I don’t want them to be victims like my friend’s daughter – Inevitability of Education. I will want the absolute very best for them, but that is the right of every child, to have the very best education, and so what if that means our education system moves away from its ineffective left wing legacy and towards a neoconservativism? We need to do what is best for these children in a changing and challenging world.

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2 thoughts on “My thoughts on Mr Gove…

  1. The problem with this is twofold.

    One: Whether or not you agree with Gove’s central ideas, he’s doing a lot of ill-thought-out things in ill-thought-out ways.

    Two: I went to the same Independent school as Mr Gove. It left me totally without confidence, and lots of bullies just ran rampant without being held accountable. One doesn’t necessarily realise everything that was going on at school at the time — I didn’t realise until a few years later that my Physics teacher in my final year was having an affair with a classmate of mine. Plenty of classes didn’t care about helping pupils grow as much as minimising bad test schools. Independent schools aren’t necessarily better, and giving schools less accountability can be bad.

  2. Wow!! someone pro-Gove in education – its like a London bus! Couldn’t agree with more with everything you’ve said. The challenge is now to implement the successful blueprint of indy schools into the lesser achieving comprehensives so they can raise their standards and achieve similar success. I have no doubt that the majority of state schools are doing above and beyond what they can on a limited budget and succeeding but for the ones that aren’t monetary and manpower support must be available asap alongside a long term plan in order to arrest the current slide into mediocrity.

    As someone who went to a decent state school which subsequently merged with 2 lesser schools to create a academy soon after i recognize the challenges that they face but also the wonderful things they did for me and many others from yrs 7-11. I also think parents carers and wider society play a part in getting these students ready for post 16 whether its F.E work etc. The students must be responsible for their own efforts in and out of school but contributions must be made from elsewhere in order to maximize their learning potential.
    I think long term we will start to see these changes being implemented and the results of this once those students enter post 16. Until then we must continue to work alongside students and other stakeholders in the current situation and make the best of it. Keep up the good work.

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