Can we have the real Michael Gove back, please?
Published in: Daily Mail
Britain's Education Secretary Michael Gove has received many plaudits – and not a few brickbats -- for the dogged and determined way in which he is pursuing his aim of rescuing Britain’s education system from the swamp of ideological insanity and professional demoralisation into which it has long fallen. He could hardly be accused of being faint-hearted in this epic and crucial culture war. So today’s story that he is fleeing one area of the battleground comes as a particular shock.
He had previously announced that Ofsted would henceforth arrive at a school unannounced to conduct an inspection. This long-overdue reform would finally end the farce by which schools could and did make a mockery of such inspections by using the advance notice they were given to remove troublesome pupils, ship in temporary ‘star’ teachers, borrow artwork displays from other schools and sweep other signs of poor performance under the carpet.
At this obviously sensible proposal, the head teachers kicked up. No surprises there; the heads’ own deficiencies now stood to be exposed. But it is reported that Gove has now junked the proposal, acknowledging the concern that
‘“...people fear it [no-notice inspection] sends a message that we don’t trust the profession, that Ofsted has become an arm of the Spanish Inquisition or Sean Connery’s Untouchables, that they have to be ready to storm in without any notice in order to deal with something that has gone drastically wrong. That was never the intention.”’
What? Not ...The Spanish Inquisition?
For heaven’s sake, we’re not talking about a tyrannical extinction of life and liberty here, merely a move to make Ofsted inspections less of a farce than they are by preventing head teachers from hiding the poor performance Ofsted is supposed to uncover but which has been routinely concealed from it thanks to the advance notice schools are given. Indeed, it is blindingly obvious that it is only spot inspections that can uncover them. And yet Gove said this:
‘“...teachers and heads deserve to have the best chance to know when an Ofsted inspection is coming and to be there to present the best face of the school.”’
What?! To paraphrase – ‘teachers and heads deserve to have the best chance to know when an Ofsted inspection is coming and thus manipulate appearances to create a Potemkin school that fools the inspectors, fails to lift teaching performance and abandons yet more children to mediocrity and ignorance.’
It is said by way of explanation that Gove is
‘...keen not to alienate heads when he is facing far more entrenched opposition to his education reforms from rank-and-file teaching unions.’
Oh no. Not... Neville Chamberlain?
Not Michael Gove. Surely. Say it ain’t so, Michael!