Interesting times indeed. I will post soon about the direction our curricular changes are moving in – the post is half written but I need more time, always more time.
Meanwhile I have just been enjoying Michael Rosen’s most recent Letter from a Curious Parent which this time hacks away at the gap between Michael Gove’s actions and his rhetoric in an article he (Gove) wrote for Standpoint magazine.
It is a masterly attack, the more so because I can hear Rosen’s voice and imagine his facial expressions as if it were a piece of performance poetry. The letter finishes:
Your legacy is the near-complete destruction of local democratic running of schools. You adopt a rhetoric in this article and elsewhere that dresses this up in the language of liberty. You cite Tony Blair, who talked of schools being “freed” from “politically correct interference from state or municipality”, but then you forget to tell us that this new freedom is controlled by a political interference from somewhere else: from one person – the education secretary.
To quote a head of a free school (unnamed for her own protection!) I met last year: “Free is not a very good word to describe our kind of school when you see all the political interference we have attracted since we opened…”
Rosen is part of the Blob, apparently – Gove’s most recent word for the collection of child-centred educationalists, teachers, union leaders, heads, academics, writers and others who disagree with him. So, it seems, is Tim Hands, the new chair of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), who has attracted a backlash from Michael Wilshaw (too many Michaels already in this post) by saying that the way that Mr G is going about education is attacking and undermining childhood. Hands’ piece is actually all the more powerful because he lumps Gove with his Labour predecessors in an attack on the way that successive governments have focused on the academic success to the exclusion of the contentment of children and their social contribution. Wilshaw’s attack on Hands rather focuses on the fact that private school heads should not be the ones to moan about this as they have the means to do something about it – a view I have some sympathy with. Although, as a teeny bit of the Blob (and proud of it) my view is instantly dismissable.
But a lot of this misses the point. We have a potentially dangerous man in government, obsessed with his own impact and possibly unable to distinguish it from his own absolutely well-meaning desires for success for the poorest children, using playground language like a bully with his tongue out to insult schools, teachers, heads and parents who for years and years have been striving for the children they love. He can’t see beyond his own rightness.
This is an issue for a couple of hundred Blob members who wrote to the Times yesterday saying that there was too much testing of children. Again, whilst well-meaning, this letter slightly misses the point. But what it does say, and says well, is that there is room, even at this late hour, for a reasoned debate in education between a range of people who have differing views but who all have the welfare of children at heart. It expresses worry that the Education Secretary has a cabal of advisers who are saying to Mr G what his itching ears want to hear, but which excludes a range of voices that need to be heard – whether he agrees with them or not.
Calling us the Blob just serves to undermine his position, not that of the Blob.