Those 100 academics writing in the Independent on Wednedsay have really got Gove and Wilshaw riled. It seems the populism worked and both targets of the letter actually understood the words. Bully for the Independent. These are the reported reactions yesterday:
- Gove: “The impression is that it is ‘Govey’ versus academia. But there is good academia and bad academia … we now have the means to discover what really works, rather than rely on prejudice.”
- Wilshaw: “I am extremely upset and concerned that there should be this level of criticism for what I think is absolutely essential – more rigour in the national curriculum and a greater focus on basic skills. It’s really important that the public at large understand what the issues are and how urgent reform is to standards and that this sort of stuff can actually undermine the trajectory of improvement that has taken place over the last few years. If we think everything is fine, everything is wonderful and that our curriculum doesn’t need reform, it’s not helpful in terms of raising standards for youngsters, but particularly those youngsters in the state system and those who live in disadvantaged communities.” (from the Times, yesterday)
As Geoff Dean so helpfully reminded 45 Milton Keynes school leaders yesterday, it is the 26 ministers and secretaries of state since 1957 that have caused this problem with their endless preening, changing policy in the wish to “make a difference” and of course naked political ambition (Gove positioning himself for the top job being the latest version of this). 100 academics might be wrong, but their views are rooted in wide and fundamental research, and they need to be listened to.
Sir Michael actually needs to understand that standards are not everything in education. He can’t say this, because his job is to run an office (I use the term with care) that is supposed to protect (again, I use this term with care) standards in education, as though that is all there is in schooling. It is bordering on the offensive even to listen to him now, so I try not to.