David Blackburn

Gove re-emphasises his reform agenda

Gove re-emphasises his reform agenda
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Michael Gove means business. His case is simple: standards have fallen; it is time to be radical. Under Labour, Britain fell from 4th to 14th for science, from 7th to 17th for literacy and from 8th to 24th for mathematics. With a fervour that was nothing short of zealous, Gove promised that the ‘injustice will end’.

His ministerial career has had a difficult start - his message often lost under Ed Balls' righteous indignation. Having faltered, he is beginning to re-direct his rhetorical emphasis to more fertile ground. Where once he wanted to empower parents, he now wants to empower teachers - no doubt to attract recalcitrant teaching unions to his cause.

Gove re-introduced his New Deal for Teachers. Teachers will be able to control their classrooms by restraining unruly pupils; headmasters will have the capacity to exclude perpetual trouble-makers. There is to be wide-ranging curriculum reform: including the introduction of a baccalaureate and restoring British history as a core subject. But there was more, teachers will have the freedom to exceed the parameters of the curriculum, ensuring that pupils in the state sector receive a broad education and are encouraged to think laterally and between disciplines when relevant, a feature of teaching in the private sector that greatly increases the chances of being accepted to good universities.    

But, even as he spoke, the forces of reaction were mustering. Using the means exposed by the Spectator recently, three councils have taken legal action against the government’s decision to cut the schools building project. The battle for radical education reform is far from won.