The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Is Gove A Liability?

Posted by The Futility Monster on July 8, 2010 @ 10:04

Well I never thought he had it in him...

After yesterday’s rather embarrassing fiasco regarding the Building Schools for the Future programme (see Hansard) and this little gem

Mr Tom Watson (West Bromwich East) (Lab): … they have seen the Secretary of State come here humiliated for the second time this week to apologise to them. He can embarrass himself; he can disgrace his party; but what is intolerable is that he has cynically raised the hopes of hundreds and thousands of families. You’re a miserable pipsqueak of a man, Gove. You have-

… at which point Mr Watson was politely interrupted by the Speaker…

… I am starting to wonder whether trusting and believing in what Michael Gove is up to may turn out to be a very risky gamble for David Cameron.

There has always been something of a media love-in for Mr Gove. There is no doubting he is an intelligent man, and believes in what he wants to do. It is nice to actually see a Secretary of State for Education who actually wants the job, and wants to do something with it, rather than the decade of Labour incumbents who had no interest in the subject or used it as a stepping stone to bigger and better things.

But there is just something amiss about Michael Gove. Maybe it’s that David Miliband geekery that puts me off. I also find his demeanour somewhat irritating, and slightly patronising. But that’s not it either.

David Cameron has placed his faith in him to do this job. Cameron has some interest in education, but he’s never really let it be known that it is his passion. To some extent, no one really knows what the impact of Gove’s education reform agenda is going to be, but Cameron, with his fresh mandate, is prepared to spend a little of it on a friend.

Fundamentally, I disagree with a great deal of what this government plans for education. I have watched Michael Gove and his obsession with “free” schools for many years now and have been a little discomfited by just how infatuated he is with his dream. Over the years, I’ve shuddered at the prospect of him being in place to implement his ideas. Ideas that are either going to be a pointless waste of money, add little to the impact of education, or could actually work.

It’s a massive gamble. We’re used to Education Secretaries tinkering with the system. But never before have we had one who wants to transform the system in his own image. Gove is the first Education Secretary we’ve had in a long time who knows what he wants to do with it, and is very likely to achieve it.

Assuming he’s right.

If he’s wrong, Cameron will eventually call time on this little experiment. But not before several more years of children being guinea pigs to this ideological battle.

Gove is indeed a liability in the sense that he may well be spectacularly wrong. He may well have completely misjudged whether the English public (for this is an England only matter) have any real desire to run their own schools.

But yesterday’s incident made me just as worried that maybe he’s not quite the safe pair of hands many people think.


4 Responses to “Is Gove A Liability?”

  1. Neil Craig said

    Watson was clearly overegging his pudding by using the word “cynically”. That can only mean that Gove deliberately made this error simply to deceive the parents at a few schools. That is obviously untrue – he had nothing to gain from that.

    It was clearly an honest mistakem at least on his part though what the civil servant who produced the list was thinking we don’t know, & he has made an unstinted aplogy. I think this compares favourably with the last lot.

  2. Matthew Huntbach said

    The “free schools” idea essentially comes from people who haven’t a clue on how the state school system works and so are basing their assumptions on things that are not true or are at the most outdated stereotypes.

    So they think that what’s wrong with schools is that councils run them. Except they don’t – councils have almost no say on what goes on inside schools.

    They think the problem with state schools is there’s no competition for admission. Except there is – state schools are competing against each other like mad to rise to the top of league tables, that’s why these stupid SATS dominate the last year or two of primary school instead of being just the simple couple of days test they should be.

    They think it’s an innovative new thing to let people run their own schools. Except it isn’t – that’s how state schools work now. They are under the control of their governors who are local volunteers, who appoint the headteacher, set the bounds, and the headteacher does the detail. There’s a big shortage of people wiling to take on the job of being school governors, so anyone who wants to run a school could volunteer to be a LEA or parent governor anyway.

    Essentially, these “free schools” are a blank cheque given to provide again what is already there anyway.

    What I see with this coalition is all the stupid aspects of it are coming from the Tories. But that’s what at the people voted for, I guess.

  3. […] Is Gove A Liability? on The Futility Monster’s blog. ‘I have watched Michael Gove and his obsession with […]

  4. […] I pointed out recently, Michael Gove is a liability. This latest bad PR day comes from the fact that a week or so ago he told everyone, without the […]

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