James Forsyth James Forsyth

The Tories’ higher goal for education

Michael Gove’s speech to the RSA yesterday was a summation of where the Tories stand on education. The new policy will, word has it, be in an announcement that Gove is making tomorrow. But the section in which Gove made the case for a classical department of education jumped out at me:

“But the renaming of the old Department was no idle exercise in empty rebranding – it reflected a philosophical shift in how government sees its role.

education has indeed been eclipsed – and the renaming of the Department is genuinely significant – we no longer have a single department of state charged with encouraging learning, supporting teaching and valuing education. Instead we have one department which manages schools – and sees them as instruments to advance central government’s social agenda.

And we also now have another department – the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills – which manages universities – and sees them as instruments to advance central government’s economic agenda. What we do not have – and what we desperately need – is a Department at the heart of Government championing the cause of education, the value of liberal learning, the wider spread of knowledge as an uncontested good in its own right.

Today I want to argue for just such an approach from the next Government.” I might be reading too much into this section, but it strikes me that the implication is that not only will the Tories undo the silly name change but also move universities back into the education department.

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