What #Gove’s up, must #Gove down! My top 10 Gove faux-pas.

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For this post (written August 2012) I have produced my top-10 list Gove’s faux-pas.

(circa. August 2014: post-publication) Mr. Gove has managed to make his mark on education and all those involved with education in England. That can only be a good thing, whether we agree with what changes he has made or not. Only time will tell. I did manage to meet him at the Education Reform Summit. See my updated post here on incoming Nicky Morgan MP.


The aim of this blog is to present a few facts and provide parody. I am not partisan to politics … but my leadership role in school (since 2008) has made me much more aware of government interference and downright chaos ensued in leadership teams and classrooms! I say nothing new and do not claim to be an expert. It is just a single opinion.

Now, straight to the point. I have carefully listed the top 10 worst events (as of August 2012: my opinion remember?) of Mr. Gove’s short tenure as Education Secretary. I have not really given it that much thought, as he has only been in post for two short years. Yes, you did read that sentence correctly! How could a man cause so much havoc in just two years! (circa. August 2012)

Okay. I think the first two are very easy and are probably the worst. Note, I have not intended to write the others in ranking order, but it appears that they have naturally fallen into rank due to the severity.

1. August 2012: Despite the worst results (ever) in the history of GCSEs, Gove refuses to accept that standards have dropped under his leadership. Coupled with the unforgiveable mess regarding English GCSE results (across the country) and Gove’s lack of character to impart any accountability onto other bodies liable for the mixup, he has denied putting pressure on the examiners to bring down grades.

When questioned about the results, he said, “Yes, the number of As and A*s has fallen, but the number of Bs has increased…(really?!) …That is a result of the independent judgments made by exam boards entirely free from any political pressure,” he told the BBC.

Dodging a bullet?

Ben Jennings Gove cartoon

2. July 2012: As the end of summer term arrived and the greatly anticipated London 2012 Olympics kicked off, Gove decided that it was now a good time to make statutory, that Academies and Independent schools will be allowed to employ people with no formal teaching qualifications (i.e. QTS). This announcement was poorly timed for the education sector, but perfectly timed for the government, when in essence, schools and teaching staff have gone to sleep over the summer break. What a perfect start for his vision to commence without any impediment on the 1st September! I must add, that this decision has caused mixed reactions.

3. November 2011: The greatest farce. ‘The Importance of Teaching’ White Paper was published. It was the first paper I had ever read cover to cover. Gove wanted a profession that insisted on entrants to the profession with no less than a 2:1 degree. That’s a good start…

Remember ‘Troops to teachers?’; I’m sure you haven’t forgotten about the goalposts being moved when the English Baccalaureate was introduced. Floor targets are to be increased to a dizzying height of 50%! Of course, the National Curriculum review (recently) took place, despite his push for schools to convert to academies and then to be allowed to opt of of a national curriculum. Does that make sense to you? The reform of A-levels, GCSEs (examinations at end with no re-sits) and the re-introduction of tests at 6 and 11 years old. I could go on…

Stephen Collins Gove cartoon

4. July 2010: Blaming Labour for a break in the link between class and achievement, I think this is his worst quote to date and really shows his intent: “In effect, rich thick kids do better than poor clever children when they arrive at school [and] the situation as they go through gets worse.” (Source)

Credit: PoliticalScrapBook

5. June 2012: A return to O-levels is quite possibly, another Gove statement of hypocrisy… “Students … shouldn’t be doing anything so old-fashioned as passing on knowledge, requiring children to work hard, or immersing them in anything like dates in history or times tables in mathematics.”

He continues to avoid answering any question on this topic after a leaked document in The Daily Mail. I cannot imagine students returning back to the age of education, at the point when I last sat in the classroom as a child!

Examinations questioned

6. February 2011: Gove unlawfully axed the funding for BSF (Building Schools for the Future) programme without consultation and immediately affected hundreds of schools across the country, already mid-build, or with funding ring-fenced. Communities were squished in an instant! Hmm, sensitive.

Credit: Western Telegraph

7. May 2012: His lack of ‘love for learning’ was embodied with his ‘run for-profit model’ schools hot-potato.

I quote you not: “It’s my belief that we could move to that situation but at the moment it’s important to recognise that the free schools movement is succeeding without that element and I think we should cross that bridge when we come to it.”

Ben Jennings Gove cartoon

8. May 2012: Now, I was brought up in a Christian home …

Gove wants every school to receive a copy of the King James bible with a personal inscription by him. Need I say more? This is on hold until he can find private funds to the sum of £337,000, (after original post) but I have now heard some schools have received their copies – without inscription. Perhaps we can our own Gove inscription?

Ros Asquith cartoon

Image: Ros Asquith

9. May 2010: When Gove was put in post, Gove immediately ousted the DCSF and re-branded the department, ‘responsible for issues affecting people’ as the DfE (Department for Education). What I failed to realise at the time, was how the coalition taking up power, would use the current climate (recession) as a persistent excuse to cut all quangos. Redundancies and educational closures, such as the TDA were all bludgeoned.

10. 1989 and most recently March 2012: Slagging teachers off for voting to strike, branding “union leaders as militants itching for a fight.” despite the irony and this internet image doing the rounds, here is a happy-smiley picture (widely circulated on the internet) of Gove doing it all himself on the frontline as a young journalist for the NUJ (National Union of Journalists) in 1989! ‘Smile’ Michael…

I concur. It is time.

Gove must call for a GCSE exam inquiry or go!



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