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Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Gove's Brave New School World Isn't

The right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate was sure of one thing when the Coalition Government came to power in 2010: after 13 years of Labour rule, and that was that our education system was rubbish, it was all Labour's fault, and the arrival of Michael "Oiky" Gove at the Department for Education would change all of that for the better.
The press' chief weapon in its characteristically aggressive campaign of demonisation against anyone called Labour was the Pisa rankings. Editors generally knew very little about these, but what they did know was that Pisa rankings contained numbers that could be used to kick politicians they didn't like, and that was far more important.

And what the Gove revolution would do, we were constantly assured, would be to improve the scores our schools posted on the Pisa rankings. Well, now the 2016 rankings are out, and suddenly the press is not quite so gung-ho about them. This may not be unconnected to the mildly inconvenient fact that those scores haven't moved in the direction predicted.

As the BBC has reported, "The UK remains a middle-ranking performer, behind countries such as Japan, Estonia, Finland and Vietnam". The achievement of Vietnam is described as "remarkable", and given it is hardly the richest nation on earth, questions are bound to be asked. So who from the ranks of the Gove cheerleaders would care to comment?

Over at the Northcliffe House bunker, the Dacre doggies at the Daily Mail are putting a brave face on it, admitting "British pupils are worse than those in tiny Estonia at maths and there has been no improvement in a DECADE, international study finds". The Dacre faithful also admit, ominously for all those enthusiasts for Rote Learning, "The OECD looked at how pupils can apply knowledge rather than just repeat it".

But there was a get-out clause: "The Pisa tests are not without their criticisms - with some claiming the figures are less reliable for comparison as they do not take data from all schools, with most countries offering about 5% of their eligible 15-year-olds for testing". That would have been a far better excuse, had it been part of the Labour-bashing after 2010, which it was not.

Perhaps Gove's most fervent cheerleader, the loathsome Toby Young, would care to offer up some soothing words in the memory of the less-than-great "Oiky"? Sadly, The Great Man's Twitter feed is bereft of anything other than deflection right now.

The Great Gove revolution, all its upheaval, all the abuse dumped on the teaching profession, and all those column inches dedicated to how wonderful it was going to be, and the brave new educational world promised - all have come to naught. And that's not good enough.


Alan Clifford said...

Anybody who has any doubts at where "news" media stand had only to view Neil's BBC "Politics" programme the other day. There were three "guests" - one of them was the arm waving moron Young and another was the equally execrable Newton Dunn of the Sun. A nominal useless "liberal" was sandwiched between the two. The decomposing far right lump of dyed-hair, sweaty lard Neil fronted the whole cowardly charade. But it was par for the course in broadcast and print "news."

So no surprise at the usual deliberate sabotage of education by balloon faced Gove and his successors. The same goes for the weasel Hunt at Health and the hissing lizard Hamilton at the Exchequer.

But why be surprised? After all, even the Guardian managed to come out from hiding recently when released records under the thirty years rule showed Thatcher wanted to introduce complete privatisation of health and education. All while lying to Parliament that both were "safe in our hands."

And consider this: the New Labour faction carried on most of her policies and still would if they ever squirmed back into power. Yes, the tories are the same old thieves they've always been and always will be. But don't kid yourself the problem doesn't run much, much deeper in our corrupt far right political system. The same system which has ensured one in eight working class citizens now live in poverty. The same system which hasn't the slightest intention of educating our children beyond prolefeed level.

Fishman Dave said...

Is this the world-renowned art critic Gove?

Anonymous said...

As a supply teacher I was recently in probably the most prestigious local public school for a few days. The largest group that I was teaching during that time consisted of twelve students. I calculated that the parents of each pupil were paying very roughly the same as I was being paid for the same hour long lesson. I challenge anyone to show me a state school which has this level of funding .....

David said...

Alan Clifford - as a big fan of Radio 4's Dead Ringers I am extremely disappointed that the list of guests on Andrew Neil's show didn't conclude with the words "....and Diane Abbott!!" ;-)