It was interesting to see Michael Gove, he of the Academies Act 2010 and comments about blobs, launch the new ‘Conservative Right’ think tank recently. Students of the history of the past two hundred years will enjoy his selective pickings from the past. Here are a few about education;
Arthur Balfour introduced an Education Act which dramatically extended state support for schooling and helped emancipate working class children from the prison house of ignorance.
No mention of the 1870 Act that first introduced State Education presumably because that was an outcome of Gladstone’s Liberal government
In Churchill’s Wartime Government it was Rab Butler who extended yet further the reach, and liberating power, of state education.
Of course, the government that introduced the 1944 Education Act was a grand coalition. That fact doesn’t rate a mention either.
Here is Michael Gove’s summing up of his stewardship in of education.
But now, thanks to this Government, there are new schools – academies and free schools – based in our poorest neighbourhoods which are sending more children to top universities than some of our most famous private schools.
The academies programme has ensured the country’s best head teachers have been given responsibility for our most challenging schools. The free schools programme has meant that some of the best primary schools in this country have been set up in just the last few years – and in some of our toughest areas. Alongside these new schools a new curriculum that sets high standards for all and the investment of more than two and a half billion pounds in the pupil premium have helped raise achievement for all children. And that is a progressive achievement of which we can all be proud.
Not a piece of data on his achievements anywhere in site in this bit of his speech apart from the figure for the Pupil Premium. But, then numbers and statistics were never Mr Gove’s strong point. You can judge for yourself whether he can really take responsibility for the Pupil Premium and its extension to the early years. The introduction of the Service Children’s Premium was, I suspect something that came from the Prime Minister and so doesn’t rate a mention here..
I will leave readers to decide whether Mr Gove is a different type of Tory than many had thought he was or whether, just perhaps, this might be an attempt to broaden his appeal ahead of a leadership challenge if the Tories lose the general election.