Prime Minister: Teachers, Who Would You Vote For?

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Who would you vote for: Michael Gove or Boris Johnson?

As painful as it is to write or say out aloud, who would you vote for: Gove or Johnson? This is a question I predicted two years ago, but I never thought I would be posing it my website as something concrete, or a question I would have to ask of myself …

With a wiser head on my shoulders …

Although the final decision is only open to Conservative members, I’d like to know what my teacher-readers would do.

In 2014 when I first met Boris Johnson and Micahel Gove (a couple of days before he lost his position as secretary of state for education), I foolishly posed for a couple of selfies with each gentleman at the Education Reform Summit, 2014. With a wiser head on my shoulders, I am not sure if this is something I would ask either politician to do today – and as I suspect sharing this today, there was a degree of outrage on social media with my followers when I first posted these photos.

You have to laugh.

Who would you vote for?

Five years on, I ask this question above to all teachers who read this. If backed into a corner, starved of food and all of education matters for 40 days until the next Prime Minister is announced, if the two front-runners were between Gove or Johnson, who would you vote for? Would you rather starve?

It’s certainly a catch-22 decision if this is all you are presented with.

My frustration begins with how little our politicians support state school education in England. You only need to read my freedom of information requests to see how little our politicians support local authority education. Day-to-day policies which chip away at vital services and professional capital.

I suspect my disappointment may be as strong as yours? Perhaps the selfies above frustrate you, or my final choice for a Prime Minister below, or the fact that Michael Gove follows me on Twitter (for all his education insights). Do not allow these facts to deter any of your thoughts away from what my views and beliefs are for a better education system in England.

I suspect we have much in common, so do not allow social media perceptions to fuel your bias.

The consensus view?

I’d like to share my catch-22 situation which I suspect is not in line with Gove or Johnson’s education policies.

  •  Funding to be increased
  • Retain our most experienced teachers
  • Reform or remove league tables
  • Abolish Ofsted in its current form
  • Stop awarding ‘gongs’ to people in education who are rewarded for mass-production of schools
  • Reshape the narrative of ‘teaching’ with the general public
  • Scale back on the competitive, capital model for education and restore professional capital.

I recently surveyed my followers on who they would vote for, and as recently as 24th May, 41 per cent of teachers would vote for Dominic Raab. My most recent poll suggests Johnson will pip Gove by 51 to 49 per cent. According to the current rules of election, the system for electing the Leader of the Conservative Party consists of two stages:

  • Conservative Members of Parliament select a choice of two candidates to present to the membership of the whole Party;
  • Party members vote, on a “one member one vote” basis, for their preferred candidate from a shortlist of two.

The process then leads towards reducing the field down to two with the eventual winner announced on 22nd July 2019. If we assume that the two leading candidates – Johnson and Gove – do get to the final selection process, if you were stuck in a corner for 40 days without food or education, who would you vote for?

Micahel Gove

For many years, almost six, I have written about Michael Gove’s education policies on this website. I’ve tweeted my views on Gove for even longer! I have modelled having a difficult conversation to support school leaders and have considered my politics throughout my career as a teacher, contemplating the damage austerity has created in disadvantaged schools and pupils in London.

Of the hundreds of decisions Gove made as education secretary, I also asked ‘What impact Michael Gove had on schools after spending more than £370,000 on King James Bibles?’ The result? 97 per cent of you said, none! I even set out what I would do as education secretary of state after Gove, Nicky Morgan and Justine Greening were appointed. I’ve even talked about what Damian Hinds would be like as a headteacher – he surely doesn’t have long left in office!

Cocaine and everything else …

Yet, even though Gove has admitted to using cocaine before entering into the world of politics, like all applications to work in the field of education, an enhanced DBS check followed by an interview with Gove would have flagged up this concern and dare I say, as a teacher, some schools would have given him a chance to discuss the issue.

Any sensible headteacher would take the information into account and make a judgement call on the timeframe and the person’s ability to do the required job. Given that this incident was over 20 years ago, one would have to accept that Gove remains a likely candidate for the position. I guess the frustrating thing for many people is the hypocrisy and white lies that continue today, shared in bygone articles, television interviews and conference stages declaring, “Even though I have used class A drugs, just say no!”

“Analysis of teacher misconduct hearings by Schools Week found that during Gove’s tenure, at least eight teachers were banned for drug-related offences.” I do wonder if Gove was snorting cocaine whilst secretary of state …

Boris Johnson

Last week, Schools Week shared a front cover, highlighting funding announcements for education by the front runners:

  • Boris Johnson said, ‘I’ll give schools £5k per pupil.’
  • Michale Gove announced. ‘I’ll give schools £1Bn.’
  • Dominic Raab chipped in with ‘I’ll give schools £3Bn.’
  • and LGBT bigot Esther McVey added to the mix with, ‘I’ll give schools £4Bn.’

If politicians knew their statistics on schools and pupil numbers: 8.74 million pupils in all English schools divided by any of the above figures won’t go very far. Even if we took PM favourite, Boris Johnson and his punt of £5k per pupil, that’s £43.7Bn which is £1.8m per school. There are 24,316 schools. For context, my last school operated on £8m turnover.

You do the maths…

It’s very difficult for us all to put personal feelings aside and to think rationally about who is best-placed to lead the country – or who is well-versed in education needs for that matter. As a survivor of sexual abuse, I could never vote for anyone who believes historic cases would be “an awful lot of police time”  wasted! You can listen to Johnson on LBC explain why he thinks spending £60 million is a misuse of taxpayers cash. For that reason alone, I don’t think I could stay in the same room as any other human being who shares these views, let alone vote for them.

I know Gove has said some horrific things too, which leads me to ask you …

Who would you vote for?

If you put me in a corner, didn’t feed me for a month and starved me of all education matters until I said it out loud and clear, “Ross, who would you vote for to be the next Prime Minister?” I know some readers would say they wpuld rather starve, and I hate to say it or put it down in writing, but of the two, Michael Gove gets my vote.

I guess this makes me have one thing in common with Nick Gibb!

@TeacherToolkit

In 2010, Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit from a simple Twitter account through which he rapidly became the 'most followed teacher on social media in the UK'. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of being most influential in the field of education. He remains the only classroom teacher to feature to this day ... Sharing resources and ideas online as @TeacherToolkit, he has built this website (c2008) which has been described as one of the 'most influential blogs on education in the UK', winning the UK Blog Awards (2018). Read more...

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