Michael Gove

Gove’s departure – and what might follow

Below, my piece in today’s Guardian Comment page on the sudden demotion of Michael Gove.
One could hear the gasps echoing around the political world yesterday morning. Gove demoted to the whips’ office? Unthinkable.
Or was it? For experienced Gove watchers, there were a few signs in the air. At last month’s Wellington College festival of education, I sat with more than 1,000 people in a marquee waiting for the secretary of state. This was the minister’s natural habitus,

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Austerity Bites

Harry’s Last Stand by Harry Leslie Smith and Austerity Bites by Mary O’Hara – my latest review in the Guardian.
Right now, some inventive literary festival programmer is probably trying to set up a staged discussion between Harry Leslie Smith and Mary O’Hara. If not, they should – it would be fascinating. Smith, a mere 91 years of age, is boiling with anger at what he sees as the UK’s return to the indignities of his Great Depression childhood.

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Why the Goves need a little history lesson

Below, my column in Education Guardian today.
A few weeks ago this newspaper published a piece by Sarah Vine, Daily Mail columnist and wife of the education secretary, Micheal Gove, explaining why they had decided to send their daughter to a London state school.
It was a funny and lively article, and I agreed with just about every word. I was particularly drawn to Vine’s argument about the importance of educating students with very different interests and talents alongside one another,

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The Ghost Road

Below, my latest piece in Guardian Comment, on education’s growing culture of overwork, and how it is affecting children and parents.
Do you know a ghost child? Are you possibly raising one? A report this week by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) pinpoints a worrying new phenomenon – the institutionalised infant, a whey-faced creature, stuck in school for 10 hours a day, the child of commuting parents possibly, wandering from playground to desk to after-school club without real purpose,

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Beyond the Gove universe…

Below, my latest piece in Guardian education…..
Michael Russell, cabinet secretary for education in the SNP government, who declared himself ‘stunned’ at recently announced English plans to allow unqualified teachers into classrooms. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod
Last week, a British education minister spoke eloquently of the necessity of a highly qualified teaching profession, free university learning and the vital importance of public education as a “societal, not just an individual, good”.
No, Michael Gove has not had a radical change of heart over the summer break.

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The question of private schools

Last month I attended a fascinating discussion about the Finnish school system by Pasi Sahlberg, author of Finnish Lessons, an account of how Finland created one of the most successful school systems in the world. In this brief extract from Pasi’s talk, he explains how, in order to create a high quality universal system, the Finns had, first, to abolish private and selective education, which created an unacceptable gap in achievement. This then prompted me to ask a question………

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School Wars – the road trip.

Over the last eight months, I have been taking the arguments in my book School Wars around the country, talking to parents, teachers, heads in maintained schools: local authority leaders; private, grammar, academy and faith school heads and staff; and many students. I have learned an enormous amount from these discussions about the strengths and divides of our current system and the impact that Coalition policy is having on our schools.
Last week the New Statesman published my edited diary style account of some of these discussions.

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Of smacking and schools; a story of odd class alliances in British politics.

How depressing that the debate on smacking children, like that of a woman’s right to choose and sex education ( which never seems to go away ) has reared its head once more. I was astonished, and somewhat appalled, to hear a discussion on the Today programme recently about whether poor children were becoming too ‘dependent’ on breakfast clubs. Jill Kirby, a commentator on Conservative Home, argued that schools should find out why families were not providing breakfast for their children and if so,

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School Wars: debate hosted by the National Education Trust


Upcoming event
‘Government education reforms will lead to a lack of accountability and greater inequality’, Melissa Benn will say at the forthcoming ‘School Wars’ debate.
The debate takes place in Islington on Thursday 9 February and is being organised by the National Education Trust, the leading education charity. It will be led by Melissa Benn, author of ‘School Wars’, with responses from Sally Coates, Principal of Burlington Danes Academy and Roy Blatchford, Founding Director of the National Education Trust.

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