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“Political Content”: praising opponents

John Rentoul

ecsImgMichael Gove 12903123 300x225 Political Content: praising opponentsI cannot work out if this is admirable or ridiculous, but there is a chunk of Michael Gove’s speech on child protection today that is not on the Department for Education website. There is a gap, marked “[Political content]“. Here is the missing section, from a news release (from Gove’s political adviser):

Just as the Labour Government early in its life felt that teachers needed to be told how to operate – down to the tiniest detail of what should happen in every literacy or numeracy hour – so the Labour Government towards the end of its life felt it had to produce thousands of pages of central Government prescription on social work practice. Both sets of interventions reflected a lack of trust in the frontline.

But the Labour Government – to its credit – recognised that while central prescription of what professionals do every day could, in certain circumstances, lift performance from weak to adequate it very rarely elevated it beyond that. So it gradually shifted its attention to helping teachers improve their practice – by setting up the National College for School Leadership, encouraging teachers in poorer schools to learn from their peers in stronger schools through initiatives such as the London Challenge and the Academy Programme and supporting professional development organisations like the Prince’s Teaching Institute. And – crucially – the last Government helped change perceptions of the profession – and enhance its prestige and self-confidence – by backing charities like Teach First which persuaded the best graduates from the best universities to enter the classroom.

Paradoxically, the main point of this section is not an attack on Labour but praise for it and a declaration that Gove intends to build on its achievements. The next, “non-political”, section announces that he wants to set up a scheme modelled on “Teach First” for recruiting top graduates into social work, called Frontline, as reported exclusively by The Independent on Sunday last month.

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  • greggf

    “But the Labour Government – to its credit – recognised that while central prescription of what professionals do every day could, in certain circumstances, lift performance….”

    Micheal Gove may be being over generous to Labour.
    Such prescription was, or is, more like indoctrination to its “peers” in the state sector following the introduction of so much socially based legislation in particular the Equality Act and HRA.

  • Toocleverbyhalf

    Barely a day seems to go by without what’s left of Michael Gove’s department issuing edicts about how and what teachers must now teach. Lots of them seem to be lifted from ‘how to teach the classics by rote’ handbooks from the 1950s.

    I wonder if many of them reflect his own “lack of trust in the frontline”…

  • stonedwolf

    I’d have loved to have access to the Classics at school.

  • creggancowboy

    WE did. Readers Wives, Razzle, Fiesta. All the greats.

  • Toocleverbyhalf

    hic haec hoc – The classics are overrated. I was taught Latin at school (but didn’t learn much) and look how I’ve ended up. Reduced to leaving comments on obscure blogs (no offence) on dismally cold, damp November days…

  • stonedwolf

    More interested in the literature and philosophy, but Latin and Greek are hugely important for understanding the English language. Etymology
    is enormously interesting.

  • Toocleverbyhalf

    Etymology is quite interesting and fortunately you don’t need to understand Latin or Greek because it’s widely and reliably available on the Internet. I wonder if Michael Gove is familiar with the Internet.

  • stonedwolf

    Etymology Online is a god-send, but I’d still have liked to have access to the source languages. Especially Latin, would have helped so much in learning Italian and Spanish too, let alone assist in scientific terms.

  • Pacificweather

    He is truly a strange politician. Fascinating to follow. I see his attraction for you John.

  • Toocleverbyhalf

    PS Delighted to learn from today’s Independent Magazine that Michael Gove is Jamie Oliver’s “real-life villain”. The engaging Mr O goes up another notch in my estimation which I’m sure will thrill him…


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