James Forsyth

Conservative conference: Michael Gove’s facts on the ground

Conservative conference: Michael Gove's facts on the ground
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The speed with which Michael Gove is going about his education reforms means that he is creating facts on the grounds, facts which Labour will—I suspect—have to accept by the next election. Parents with children at new free schools and academies are not going to vote for a party that is going to abolish their child’s school. For example, the mother of a child at a Birmingham free school—Geraldine Henry—spoke at Tory conference today in favour of free schools. I expect that Henry would never have expected to find herself speaking at a Tory conference but she clearly felt compelled to come and promote and defend her son’s school.

As is now traditional at the education session of Tory conference, most of the time was given over to parents, pupils and teachers. Gove confined himself to a short—but powerful—speech without notes. The education secretary and his team believe that is the testimony of those at the coal face of education that will persuade people that their reforms really are improving schools.