Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Michael Gove’s evangelical education afternoon

Michael Gove has only just started speaking to his party conference, but already he has made a powerful, emotive case for the moral value of his education reforms. The education section of the afternoon programme has resembled an evangelical Christian outreach event where people give their ‘testimonies’ about how they came to faith.

It had a former US teaching union leader, George Parker, explaining how he was ‘born again’ as a reformer, and how he repented of the days he spent time and money defending bad teachers and opposing performance-related pay. He was followed by Mark Lehain from the Bedford Free School, and a parent of a pupil at the school, Jo Morey, who broke down in tears as she thanked the Conservatives for giving her choice over how her child was educated. She received a standing ovation.

A bright and chatty pupil wearing his smart school uniform them popped up to speak about how much he loved his school and looked forward to exams (no, really).

When he stood up, Gove told the conference that ‘it is now the Conservatives that are the party of social justice in Great Britain’. Powerful testimonies like those that preceded him make it much easier for the Education Secretary to make his case for school choice, and, like Jeremy Hunt, claim the moral high ground on his policy area.

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