Peter Hoskin

Gove’s school reforms get off the ground

Gove's school reforms get off the ground
Text settings

The arduous process of reforming our country's education system begins today.  After two school reform bills were announced in yesterday's Queen's Speech, Michael Gove is writing to all English primary and secondary schools inviting them to cut loose from local authority control and become academies.  This is but stage one of the reform process: changing the system that's already in place.  The really radical part will come after the summer recess, with the government's plans for pupil premiums and the like.

There is already much opposition to the agenda: the teachers' union NASUWT, for instance, is laughably claiming that the drive for more academies would "disenfranchise democratically-elected local councils" (good luck trying to make that case to parents who want better standards).  But the main reason to believe that the coalition's reforms will win through in the end is perhaps Gove himself.  Speaking on the Today Programme this morning, he was typically sincere and persuasive – explaining how he doesn't want to "coerce anybody" into the system, and why he plans to "slim down the curriculum".

Not that it's all perfect, of course.  Gove was relatively unsure on the issue of whether "nutty groups" might exploit a freer schools system – saying, inconclusively, that it would be "up to the department" to root out "extremists and religious fundamentalists".  I'm sure there will be firm provisions for this in future.  But, for now, you can be sure that the agenda's opponents will make the most of these outlying possibilities.