I was teaching my very last lesson at my (current) school today when the following message popped up on my screen:
“Education Secretary Michael Gove is to become the new chief whip ...” (Source)
Gove has been replaced by Treasury minister Nicky Morgan, as Mr Cameron promotes more women into top jobs. If you want to see where (new Secretary of State) Nicky Morgan MP, stands in terms of her political views, you can gather a useful summary here. on what and how she voted.
“If Morgan is to be successful in her role she will have to establish an agenda that is far more progressive than Gove had put forward.” (Source)
The average term of office is ~800 days.
“Morgan’s predecessor, Michael Gove, was in power for 1525 days – almost double the average for an Education Secretary. To match this longevity Morgan would need to still be in post on 16th September 2018.” (Great Education Secretaries)
My immediate thoughts were of course mixed. One of interest and the other of, ‘here we go again’, and as I shared the news with my colleagues, I started to think about all the changes Gove has put in place and what we may expect from Nicky Morgan over the summer as she makes ‘her stand’ in her new job,
Then I looked across my classroom and imagined the impact this change will have on my students. They [my students] are none-the-wiser and it is those in our classrooms (not just the teacher) who will bear the brunt of any cabinet shuffle at The Department for Education. And no matter whether we have sat comfortably (or not) will all the recent changes to educational reform since 2010, the one change that we can always be sure of, is that there will always be constant-change. And that we must remain hopeful that the incoming Secretary of State for Education will give the profession some time for consolidation.
“It will be a challenge for Morgan to balance her religious influences against her desire to deliver a greater sense of accountability.” (Source)
Nicky Morgan has voted on the following educational issues:
- Voted very strongly for greater autonomy for schools
- Voted very strongly for raising England’s undergraduate tuition fee cap to £9,000 per year
- Voted very strongly for academy schools
- Voted very strongly for ending financial support for some 16-19 year olds in training and further education
- Voted very strongly for university tuition fees
- Of note, a sticking point for Morgan – more than her educated background and views – will be her views on same-sex marriage. She said: “This was totally a free vote, it was an issue of conscience and I had no pressure put on me from anyone higher in the Conservative party … I totally support civil partnerships and that same-sex relationships are recognised in law. But marriage, to me, is between a man and a woman.” (Source)
I wonder how the above bullet points will be interpreted by the profession.
As I consider the changes to those sitting in the top seat of government, there will be much to share and read over the coming weeks. What I outline here, is a simple 5-point plan for the new Secretary of State for Education, RH Nicky Morgan MP to engage with the profession in England and Wales:
- Give the profession a period of time to consolidate; trust teachers and school leaders to carry out recent reforms to education. Particularly those on curriculum, assessment and levels.
- Challenge the purpose of Ofsted for schools, teachers, parents and students. Ensure that the watchdog is fit-for-service and (if Ofsted remain) is there to support schools. Hold Ofsted to account.
- Share good news stories with the profession; with the media. Work to improve working conditions and fairer pay for teachers.
- Listen to us; listen to the profession. Genuinely engage with grassroots practice and teachers at the chalkface.
- Focus reform on what works and use evidence to make what works for us in our own country. Do not be driven by league tables; political think-tanks and ideological beliefs.
Dear Mrs. Morgan:
If I could say one final statement; think of your own children Ms Morgan. What kind of education would you want your son to have? And not just one that perhaps may be far-removed from where the vast majority of state-school teachers are working. This is the reality. There are plenty of good schools across the country working tirelessly to improve standards of teaching and learning. Get out and visit teachers working on the front line. Behaviour is good in many schools. Teaching is good in many schools and many schools are good. Work with us. Trust us and most of all, engage and allow us to get on with the job in hand.
It could just be one year in office for you before the next general election, so you will need to work hard to gain the respect of a profession, that feels berated and in dire need of some tender love and care.
Morgan’s appointment should be treated with a reasonable amount of caution, but the mood for many as schools break for summer, is that anyone is better than Gove.
Follow and engage: Go on, send Nicky a tweet!
Let’s hope it’s not all lip-service!?