Michael Gove MP

25 Oct 2011 13:44:26

Gove says he "respected the passion" from backbenchers, stressing consensus in the Tory party over the EU

By Joseph Willits 
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Screen shot 2011-10-25 at 13.40.58Michael Gove was the man responsible for hitting the airwaves the morning after 81 Conservative MPs voted in favour of a referendum on the EU. Gove said that despite the significance of numbers, differences in policy were being "exaggerated", and that there was a consensus between backbenchers and the Cabinet "to change our relationship with the European Union".

Gove stressed his appreciation for differing points of view. He told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme, that despite not being in agreement with the rebels, he "respected their passion" and that "people like Adam Holloway, who resigned last night, did so as a matter of principle, and I respect them doing so". Rather than being a humiliating experience for the Government, and for Cameron personally, Gove said the debate had run contrary to a belief, and lack of faith about politicians "that people are always looking to see if they can shin up the greasy pole". Gove slammed Nick Robinson's assessments, who he said had "used all kinds of justifications to do with the vote; boundary reviews, and promotions" as examples of the rebellion's humiliation for the party.

On Cameron himself, Gove stated that the PM's desire "to refashion our relationship with the EU" was an issue of heart, not simply because it "was wrung out of him". He denied that the implementation of a three-line whip was embarrassing for Cameron, citing the fact that under a coalition dynamics change, and "parties need to compromise in the national interest".

Continue reading "Gove says he "respected the passion" from backbenchers, stressing consensus in the Tory party over the EU" »

13 Aug 2011 07:56:39

Michael Gove winds up public disorder debate and condemns "a culture of greed and instant gratification, rootless hedonism and amoral violence"

By Matthew Barrett
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Gove in Commons Thursday's recall of Parliament included a Commons debate on Public Disorder. The debate was introduced by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, and some of the contributions from Conservative Members were covered here yesterday. Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, wound up the debate. 

Firstly, Mr Gove praised the contributions from both sides: "We have had a very good debate today, and the speeches of hon. Members on both sides of the House have been of a uniformly high standard. The contributions made by hon. Friends and other hon. Members have made me proud to be a Member of Parliament. It was a vindication of your decision, Mr Speaker, to recall the House."

Mr Gove then praised the Members from constituencies affected by riots in particular: "I am particularly grateful to hon. Members from Lewisham, Enfield, Ilford, Ealing, Wolverhampton, Hackney, Tottenham, Battersea, Bristol, Liverpool and Manchester for their speeches, which reflected their direct personal engagement with those who have been victims of this terrible week. The fact that they all spoke with such force and eloquence underlines the fact that we have Members who listen and are in touch, who act and then report back and who analyse what has gone wrong and argue for a better country."

Continue reading "Michael Gove winds up public disorder debate and condemns "a culture of greed and instant gratification, rootless hedonism and amoral violence"" »

19 Jul 2011 13:15:23

In case you're interested in things other than hacking, Gove has found £2.5 billion extra for school buildings

By Tim Montgomerie
Follow Tim on Twitter.


Responding to Michael Gove in the House of Commons a few minutes ago, Labour's education spokesman Andy Burnham wished the Education Secretary the "best of British luck" in getting any coverage for what he has just announced. He'll need more than luck, Mr Gove will need a miracle to get any significant coverage in either the broadcast or written media. But the blogosphere to the rescue...

Continue reading "In case you're interested in things other than hacking, Gove has found £2.5 billion extra for school buildings" »

7 Feb 2011 20:55:29

John Bercow rebukes Michael Gove for accusing Andy Burnham of "rank hypocrisy"

Tim Montgomerie

According to the officlal UK Parliament website, "unparliamentary language" is defined as follows...

"Unparliamentary language breaks the rules of politeness in the House of Commons Chamber. Part of the Speaker's role is to ensure that MPs do not use insulting or rude language and do not accuse each other of lying, being drunk or misrepresenting each other's words. Words to which objection has been taken by the Speaker over the years include blackguard, coward, git, guttersnipe, hooligan, rat, swine, stoolpigeon and traitor. The Speaker will direct an MP who has used unparliamentary language to withdraw it. Refusal to withdraw a comment might lead to an MP being disciplined. MPs sometimes use considerable ingenuity to get around the rules; for example Winston Churchill famously used the phrase "terminological inexactitude" to mean "lie"."

Gove Looking Right Earlier today Michael Gove accused the Shadow Education Secretary, Andy Burnham, of "rank hypocrisy". The Speaker, John Bercow - who constantly rebukes Mr Gove for the smallest of reasons - has since ruled that this was unacceptable language and Mr Gove will have to apologise to the House.

Mr Burnham had attacked Michael Gove's plan for an English Baccalaureate of core subjects at GCSE:

"Are you really saying to young people and employers today that dead languages are more important than business studies, engineering, ICT, music and RE?

Gove replied:

"I am surprised you have the brass neck to stand here and say working-class children shouldn't study modern foreign languages, shouldn't study science, shouldn't study history and shouldn't study geography. If it is good enough for you, why shouldn't it be good enough for the likes of working class children elsewhere? Why are you pulling up the draw bridge on social mobility?... It's rank hypocrisy."

It was brilliantly delivered and exactly the sort of passion we need to see from our politicians.

If Mr Bercow really wants to see parliament respected he won't wrap debate in cotton wool... and as for unparliamentary behaviour, he should look closer to home.

20 Jul 2010 15:25:24

Conservative Education Select Committee chairman expresses concern at the Academies Bill's hasty passage through the Commons as Michael Gove declares himself a "born-again Blairite"

By Jonathan Isaby

Yesterday saw the Second Reading of the Academies Bill, which has already gone through the House of Lords.

Picture 6 During the debate, Graham Stuart, the elected chairman of the Education Select Committee, expressed his concern with the speed at which the legislation is being taken through the Commons:

"I am concerned by the speed at which the legislation is going through Parliament. It would be a great shame if something so potentially beneficial were damaged or discredited by over-hasty execution. The Bill delivers a Conservative manifesto commitment on a policy that has been clear for years, but none the less parliamentary scrutiny is necessary and beneficial for any policy. It should not be rushed and when it is, as the last Administration found, the errors usually rebound on the Government who put it through. I ask Ministers to think carefully about implementation this September-whether we are talking about hundreds or, perhaps, as few as 50 schools. Is it worth the candle to put the Bill through so swiftly?"

Michael Gove pensive 2010 This was an issue which Education Secretary Michael Gove had anticipated in his speech opening the debate:

"I know that some Opposition Members say, "Pause, gie canny, slow down, hesitate", but that is the argument of the conservative throughout the ages when confronted with the radicalism that says we need to do better for our children. We cannot afford to wait. We cannot afford Labour's failed approach any more, with teachers directed from the centre, regulations stifling innovation and our country falling behind other nations. We need reform and we need it now. We need the Bill."

He summarised the need for the Bill earlier in the speech:

Continue reading "Conservative Education Select Committee chairman expresses concern at the Academies Bill's hasty passage through the Commons as Michael Gove declares himself a "born-again Blairite"" »

8 Jul 2010 07:19:57

Michael Gove apologises for misleading the Commons over which schools have been earmarked for rebuilding

Picture 2 Education Secretary Michael Gove came to the Commons last night to apologise profusely for having released misleading information earlier in the week about which schools previously earmarked to recieve funding for new buildings are having it reviewed. He told the House:

"With permission, Mr Speaker, I should like to apologise to you and to the whole House for the way information accompanying my oral statement on Monday was provided to all Members.

"During my statement a list of schools affected by our plans to review capital funding was placed in the House of Commons Library. I wish to apologise to you and to the whole House for not placing that list on the Table of the House and in the Vote Office at the beginning of my statement, as you reminded me page 441 of “Erskine May” quite properly requires. I further wish to apologise for the inaccurate information on the list I was supplied with and which I gave to the House."

"A number of schools were miscategorised, and for that I apologise. In particular, there were schools that were listed as proceeding when, in fact, their rebuild will not now go ahead. That confusion caused Members of this House and members of the public understandable distress and concern, and I wish to take full personal responsibility for that regrettable error.

"I also wish to apologise to you, Mr Speaker, and to the House for any confusion over the manner of my apology today and any related media speculation. In responding to press queries earlier, my Department confirmed that I was writing to those affected by these mistakes, and it was my intention then to come to the House with as accurate a picture as possible of the exact errors and to apologise for them. I have placed a revised list of schools in the Vote Office and am writing to all Members affected. I would be grateful if any Members who are concerned that schools may have been wrongly categorised were to contact me personally, so that I can ensure, with them, that the information we have been supplied with is as accurate as possible. Once again, Mr Speaker, I am grateful to you and to the whole House for granting me the opportunity to make this statement and, once again, to apologise unreservedly." 

The atmosphere in the chamber was highly charged, with West Bromwich West Labour MP Tom Watson being forced by the Speaker to withdraw his unparliamentary remark "You’re a miserable pipsqueak of a man, Gove" - although it was in response to Watson's question that the Education Secretary made it clear he was prepared to apologise in person to those affected by the errors:

"I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his question; it gives me the opportunity once again to apologise to his constituents and to other parents and teachers in Sandwell for the confusion that was caused by the mistake that I made on Monday. I understand the passion that he brings to the issue, and I understand how hard he fights for his constituents. I shall be very happy to go to West Bromwich and apologise to those who have been misled by the mistake that has been made. I am more than happy to do so. As I said earlier, the mistake was mine and mine alone, and I am happy to acknowledge it."

It is certainly a welcome change from the last thirteen years to hear ministers being contrite and taking personal responsibility when their departments have made mistakes.

Jonathan Isaby

6 Jul 2010 09:08:05

Gove shifts education spending from buildings and quangoes to teachers and deprived areas

Education Secretary Michael Gove concluded his statement on school buildings yesterday with these words:

"We have safeguarded front-line revenue schools spending, we have safeguarded front-line spending on Sure Start and we have safeguarded front-line spending on school and college places for 16 to 19-year-olds this year. We have cut spending on wasteful quangos, we have cut the unnecessary bureaucracy which has swallowed up so much money and we have reduced the amount spent on regional government, on field forces and on unnecessary Government inspection regimes; but we have prioritised funding for better teachers, we have invested more in the education of the poorest and we are giving schools greater control of the money that has previously been spent on their behalf. For everyone who believes in reforming education that has to be the right choice, and I commend this statement to the House."

> Related link: "Only 18 UK teachers have been struck off for incompetence in the past 40 years"

8 Jun 2010 17:23:26

Nicola Blackwood raises the issue of domestic abuse against women and men in her maiden speech

Nicola Blackwood Commons Nicola Blackwood defeated Lib Dem MP Evan Harris in Oxford West and Abingdon at the general election, a man who she said in her maiden speech "never put popularity above principle".

She concentrated her remarks during the Queen's Speech debate on a serous matter that particularly resonates in her constituency:

"Despite chronic under-reporting, research shows that domestic abuse accounts for 16% of violent crime. It affects one in four women and one in six men. Despite the fact that most people still think of it as a women’s issue, a third of victims are men.

"The social and economic impact of domestic abuse is becomingly increasingly unsustainable. Domestic abuse claims more repeat victims—that is more police time and more repeat visits to A and E—than any other crime. It leads to the murder of four women and one man a fortnight, and affects four children in every class of 30. All that costs our economy an estimated £23 billion a year, and front-line services bear the brunt. In the current economic climate, that will only get worse. United Nations research has confirmed what common sense has told us for years: unemployment and financial instability exacerbate domestic abuse.

"Surely if those on both sides of the Chamber can agree on anything, it is that no one should fear being raped or beaten in their own home, forced into marriage or killed in the name of honour. However, there are still worrying gaps in provision. In theory, the introduction of sexual assault referral centres is a good thing, but the nearest one for us is in Slough—a long way to go for someone who has been brutally raped. To add insult to injury, my local rape crisis centre currently faces a funding crisis. There is also the gender problem. Although roughly a third of victims are male, only 1% of refuge space is available for men. In Oxfordshire, there is no provision for male victims fleeing domestic abuse."

You can watch the whole speech below.

Jonathan Isaby

12 Jan 2010 16:36:47

Michael Gove explains why home education for their children is every parent's human right

Michael Gove happy Yesterday saw the Second Reading of the Children, Schools and Families Bill in the Commons. In the below extracts from his speech, Shadow Children, Schools and Families Secretary, Michael Gove makes a strident defence of parents who decide to educate their children at home and expresses his concern about the bureaucratic burdens the Government is seeking to place upon them:

"I am deeply concerned about the additional bureaucratic burden that will now potentially be placed on thousands of our fellow citizens whose only crime is to want to devote themselves as fully as possible to their children's education. It is a basic right of parents to be able to educate their children in accordance with their own wishes, and to educate them at home if they so wish. There may be many reasons why parents take that decision: they might be dissatisfied with local provision; their child might have a specific educational need that they feel can be better supported at home; or they might have philosophical objections to the style of education on offer at the local state schools that are easily accessible.

"Each of these decisions can sometimes be illuminating, in that they can tell us what is wrong with current provision-there might be a lack of diversity, for instance. Ultimately however, this is a basic human right that every parent should have, and I feel the Bill erodes that right, because, as I read it, it allows the state to terminate the right of a family to educate a child at home if the education offered is not deemed suitable according to regulations that the Secretary of State writes."

"I do not know of any home educating parent who supports these provisions. I, like almost every Member of this House, have been inundated by correspondence, telephone calls and e-mails from, and had private meetings with, home educating parents who are deeply concerned about this legislation, because it undermines the right of a family who have broken no laws and placed no child in danger to decide what is in the interests of their child.

"As the debate on home education has developed, I have become particularly worried about the way in which various issues have been conflated; I am especially worried about the conflation of safeguarding and child protection with quality of education. I deeply regret the way statistics have been used to suggest somehow that children are intrinsically at greater risk if they are being home educated; I believe I am right in saying that not a single home-educated child has had to be taken into care as a result of a child protection plan, yet there are those who have sedulously spread the myth that somehow children are at greater risk through being home educated.

"One of my specific concerns is that this legislation means the state will take it upon itself to regulate what may or may not be taught in the home. Proposed new section 19C in schedule 1 provides that parents will have to produce a report in accordance with regulations laid down by the Secretary of State explaining what they propose to include in the education programme for their child. They will then have to allow an inspector in at an appropriate point, and that inspector will have to be satisfied that the education being provided is suitable, according to the regulations laid down by the Secretary of State. If that education is not considered suitable by that local authority employee, the right of that individual to be home educated can be revoked. So this is not about safeguarding or even about child protection; this is about the Secretary of State being able to say that an individual home educating parent is not providing an education that he deems appropriate and therefore they should not have the right to educate that child at home."

"I do not believe that the current system is perfect, but it is fundamentally important that we respect the rights of home educators first and that we ensure that any change to legislation is conducted in accordance with their wishes and interests - they have made it crystal clear that the approach that has been taken so far runs counter to those."

Read the whole speech here.

Jonathan Isaby

19 Nov 2009 16:47:10

Michael Gove teases the Education Secretary as he denounces the Queen's Speech as "pure Balls"

Michael Gove happy Today the Queen's Speech debate has seen education being debated, with Michael Gove and Ed Balls squaring up to each other at the despatch box.

I think it's fair to say there is no love lost between the pair, and Shadow Education Secretary Michael Gove opened his speech this afternoon with typically combative rhetoric:

It is always a pleasure to follow the Secretary of State in the debate on the Queen’s Speech, not least because the Gracious Speech had his fingerprints all over it. It was, in every sense of the word, pure Balls. Before the Gracious Speech was delivered, we were told by one Cabinet Minister that it would be the most political Queen’s Speech for 12 years. Instead of that statement being a shamefaced confession, it was actually a boast. The Cabinet Minister concerned appeared to think that there was a virtue in using the Government’s entire legislative programme for narrowly partisan purposes.

Whoever that anonymous briefer might be, he certainly will not come in for any criticism from the Secretary of State. After all, the right hon. Gentleman was the man who told the New Statesman that his predecessor, the right hon. Member for Bolton, West (Ruth Kelly), was absolutely wrong to pursue consensus over schools policy. What we needed, the Secretary of State said, was “to get back to a clear dividing line between us and the Conservatives on education policy.”

Note his priority: in the very first interview he gave on education, his priority was not raising pupil attainment, extending parental choice, freeing teachers from bureaucracy, improving discipline, enhancing literacy or closing the widening gap between the richest and the poorest. No, his priorities were not our priorities. His priority was simple: creating dividing lines—putting political positioning over principle, with partisan politics instead of national renewal.

Where there was harmony, the Secretary of State promised to bring discord. That is one promise he has certainly fulfilled. As my hon. Friend the Member for Worthing, West (Peter Bottomley) pointed out earlier when discussing subatomic particles, we all know that atoms, whether fluoride or otherwise, are made up of protons, neutrons and electrons. The way to transform an atom into an ion is by adding or taking away an electron. As my hon. Friend pointed out, the type of ion the Secretary of State is probably responsible for producing is one that is relentlessly negative. However, one of the problems with the right hon. Gentleman is that if subatomic particles are handled insensitively they can sometimes create nuclear explosions.

Talking of nuclear explosions brings me to relations between the Secretary of State and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. One thing has not changed in the last 12 years. The Secretary of State still thinks he is running the Treasury. He will not rest until he is in No. 11. For him, “Move Over, Darling” is not a film starring Doris Day, it is an operation he has probably subcontracted to Damian McBride. 

He later added:

The truth is that after boasting about spending increases and retreating, then offering spending cuts and retreating, and then again boasting about spending increases and retreating, the Secretary of State has absolutely no credibility left on the issue. He is the Katie Price of public spending—the Jordan of this Government. All that he is interested in is being on the front pages, so he has massively inflated what he has to offer. The past few months have left him dangerously overexposed; that means that he is in desperate need of support before it all goes south, but given his record of loyalty, it is a very brave man who would get into bed with him.

Jonathan Isaby

20 Oct 2009 06:57:34

Michael Gove challenges Ed Balls over his appointment of new Children's Commissioner for England

GOVE MICHAEL RED TIE Yesterday Shadow Children, Schools and Families Secretary Michael Gove was granted an urgent question to challenge Ed Balls about his appointment of Maggie Atkinson as the new Children's Commissioner for England.

Her appointment was made by Balls despite the (Labour-dominated) departmental select committee refusing to endorse her on the grounds that she would not be independent enough "to challenge the status quo on children's behalf".

The select committee chairman, Labour MP Barry Sheerman, had also stoked the controversy by saying that Ed Balls was "a bit of a bully".

Michael Gove told the Commons:

"In his very first statement, the Prime Minister pledged that major public appointments would be subject to scrutiny by this House. He argued that the Executive had too much power and Parliament too little. Why is the Secretary of State now rowing back from that principle? Why is he overruling the unanimous view of a Labour Committee with a Labour majority and a Labour Chairman? The Secretary of State clearly wants to push one particular agenda. It is the Committee’s job to provide independent scrutiny. Why exactly is this Secretary of State a better judge than a Committee of this House of who should be an independent scrutineer of the Government?

"The Secretary of State has already appointed Dr. Maggie Atkinson to do his bidding in three patronage roles—as chair of a national expert group, as chair of a multi-agency steering and reference board and as chair of a new national work force partnership. In each of those roles, she has consistently supported Government policy in Department for Children, Schools and Families press releases. She has never been in the lead of any critique of Government policy. What evidence is there that she is not just another Labour establishment choice? May I ask the Secretary of State whether Ms Atkinson has ever been a member of any political party? Is it true that every time she has been appointed to a post in local government, the local authority was not Conservative controlled at the time?

"The Chairman of the Select Committee has identified a pattern of behaviour from the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State has got rid of those who disagree with him, such as Lord Adonis, Cyril Taylor, Bruce Liddington, Ken Boston and Ralph Tabberer, while appointing individuals who are either pliant or conformist. Does he believe that that bolsters confidence in how he discharges his responsibilities? Does he think that it reinforces confidence in his belief in scrutiny when, instead of choosing to defend his decision in this place, his first instinct was to justify himself in a letter briefed out at 10.30 last night? What reassurances can he now give us that when it comes to public appointments and the running of his Department, there is no longer something of the night about the way in which he operates?"

Jonathan Isaby

28 Apr 2009 10:58:56

When should pupils be expelled from schools?

John Bercow MP Here are the highlights from yesterday's Children, Schools and Families questions.

Buckingham MP John Bercow advocated a more liberal exclusion policy:

"Of course, schools sometimes mistake disability for disobedience. Children with special educational needs are nine times more likely to be permanently excluded from school, and the Government are rightly committed to reducing the incidents of such exclusions. In the light of that, will the Under-Secretary of State consider the merit of amending the law so that a child with SEN or disability may be permanently excluded from school only if a review has taken place of the sufficiency and effectiveness of the reasonable adjustments that have been made under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to seek to accommodate that pupil?

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. I pay tribute to his expertise in this area of special educational needs, and we certainly share his passion and commitment to promoting improved outcomes for children with SEN and disabilities. I am, of course, aware that he has a private Member’s Bill that is due for its Second Reading on 15 May. I believe that that is one proposal that may be considered in it. We certainly look forward to debating that."

By contrast Shadow Minister for Children Tim Loughton stressed the importance of protecting pupils from violence:

"Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham) (Con): Government figures last year revealed that there was a drop of 13 per cent. in permanent exclusions between 2003 and 2007 despite a 50 per cent. increase in the number of children suspended for five times or more— 867 of them excluded for 10 times or more—at a time that saw 4,370 fixed exclusions for serious racist abuse and more than 207,000 serious offences, such as sexual abuse and violence. Yet, in no fewer than 40 per cent. of appeals against permanent exclusions, reinstatement was upheld so that pupils could return to the scene of their offences with impunity, most of them having nothing to do with SEN. Does the Minister think it right that a pupil who has been excluded for violent crime, racist or sexual abuse should be readmitted to schools under any circumstances against the better judgment of the head or the governors?

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: We are certainly committed to backing head teachers’ authority when pupils’ behaviour warrants exclusion. Last year, the number of successful appeals was just 1.2 per cent. of all permanent exclusions, so we must get this in balance. We obviously recognise, and we have said in response to Alan Steer's report, that repeated suspension should lead to permanent exclusion. We are certainly giving back head teachers authority in that."

Continue reading "When should pupils be expelled from schools?" »

12 Mar 2009 17:15:06

Michael Gove says case details of child deaths should be published in full

Michael_gove_mp_2Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families Michael Gove spoke this afternoon on the progress report from Lord Laming on the protection of children.

Mr Gove compared the refusal to publish the details of a child's death to keeping the information from an aviation black box secret after a crash, in that it prevents us learning all we need to. This is a persuasive argument.

The full case details of Baby P (a child who was brutalised to death despite being visited by 60 professionals) are being kept secret - and one can't help wondering if that is because they would bring shame on influential politicians. They should be made public immediately.

The text of Mr Gove's speech follows.

Tom Greeves

Continue reading "Michael Gove says case details of child deaths should be published in full" »

10 Mar 2009 11:05:18

John Bercow on the importance of tackling bullying

John_bercow_mpQuestions were put to ministers from the Department for Children, Schools and Families department yesterday.

The very last question of the session was from John Bercow, Buckingham MP, and addressed the loathsome phenomenon of bullying:

"Given that approximately 6,000 children a year exclude themselves from school after suffering extreme bullying, approximately 50 per cent. of whom have contemplated or attempted to commit suicide, will the Secretary of State agree to meet me and a delegation of interested parties to consider the case for funding the network of Red Balloon learner centres across the country? They are doing fantastic work in restoring the self-esteem of those damaged children, and getting them back into school, into further education, on to university or into employment. They need a bit of help.

Ed Balls: I had the opportunity two weeks ago to meet a group of young people from Norwich and Harrow who were being given chances to get back into school through the support of Red Balloon. Such decisions are made by local authorities, and I urge all local authorities to support Red Balloon and such new opportunities for children. I would love to meet the hon. Gentleman and a delegation again, so that I can hear further inspiring stories of young people getting back into education because of this important voluntary organisation."

Mark Pritchard, who represents The Wrekin, asked about means testing:

"Does the Minister accept that there needs to be more flexibility in the means-testing criteria? For example, the circumstances of a household on an income of £30,000 with a single child in full-time education are entirely different from those of another household on the same income but with five children in full-time education. Such issues have an impact on whether some children fulfil full-time education.

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: The problem is that the more flexibility that we put into the system, the more complex it becomes. I understand the hon. Gentleman’s point, but there will not always be the same number of young people in the 16-to-18 age group. It is that particular age group that we are trying to attract with the education maintenance allowance."

Continue reading "John Bercow on the importance of tackling bullying" »

27 Jan 2009 13:30:33

Michael Gove and Damian Green question school standards

Damian_greenMichael_goveYesterday the House of Commons had oral questions on Children, Schools and Families.

Shadow Immigration Minister Damian Green poured scorn on coursework as a method of assessment:

"May I ask the Minister also to consider the means of assessment and, in particular, the use of course work for GCSEs and AS-levels? As a parent of teenagers, I know that many of them regard this form of assessment as laughable. It might be assessing the candidates, but it might also be assessing the work of their elder sibling, their parents or their friends—no one can be confident that it is assessing the work of the candidates themselves. Will the Minister accept that this experiment is failing, because it is not providing fair assessment, and look again at how best to obtain accurate results in these important exams for young people?

Jim Knight: The hon. Gentleman is right to say that they are important exams. Indeed, my son is currently doing his course work for his second year of A-levels. He is taking the work extremely seriously—I hope—and this is the subject of much discussion. Course work is important, and it is important that it is completed properly. It varies between different subjects, and we have reduced the amount of course work as a component of certain GCSEs. I am confident that we have now struck the right balance in each of the different subjects. For example, as someone who studied geography to degree level, I know that course work is a really important element in that subject, and it should remain so."

This is a tricky area. On the one hand coursework is open to massive abuse, on the other exams really don't favour everybody, and indeed an ability to complete an ongoing project successfully is arguably a more useful skill in the workplace than being good at tests.

Shadow Schools Secretary Michael Gove suggested that school examinations are also inadequate:

Continue reading "Michael Gove and Damian Green question school standards" »