You really get the sense that both the Department for Education and their minister are completely out of their depth at the moment. I hope not, because they pull important levers. Hans von Bulow (allegedly) said to Brahms after hearing his lovely violin concerto, that whilst Max Bruch had written a concerto for the violin, Brahms had written one against it. This witticism could be equally applied to the Department “for” Education. Because it seems more and more than they are creating a fight where none need be fought, for entirely ideological reasons, and then blaming others for being ideological. They (department and minister) seem not to mind being against education, providing that they can be against their political enemies as well. You can’t blame them – the next election is only 5 years away…

The Times has found or taken another photo of Nicky Morgan to go along with their article on her latest diatribe – and diatribe it is – against Labour educational policy (“Mrs Morgan blamed Labour politicians for perpetuating education blackspots in cities across England”).

Actually, the article says that she blames policy makers in education between the years of 1990 (who exactly was prime minister then? And which party was it? Something beginning with C?) and 2010 (which month in 2010 she fails to mention, but Labour was only making policy in 2010 for a month and a half before the wash-up sank its great new curriculum under the Govian backlash). So for 8 of those 20 years, I think we had Conservative ministers “leading” education, and if you remember back to that time, you will remember the relief with which everyone welcomed David Blunkett as Secretary of State for (and he was for) Education in the 1997 Labour landslide. Mrs Morgan is right to criticise the Tory management of education in 1990-1997, but there might be some in the Lords who will want a quiet word.

Her charges against Labour are that in trying to create qualifications that met the learning needs of those that were not academic, they created psuedo-qualifications that employers did not respect. This is almost complete boondoggle, and just flows from a chaotic view of the education landscape which their gut wants to control down to the tiniest minutiae, but which their head is telling them needs more freedom.

Same old struggle that we all have. How do we get the outcomes without sacrificing the quality of relationship or the content of what we want to convey? Spent a morning listening to Paul Carlile and Tom Macready from the Restorative Foundation talking about this very thing. They could tell Mrs M a thing or two. Give them a call, Nicky. Your department is looking to you for leadership, not diatribe.

 

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About Huw Humphreys

I am a headteacher in the city of Milton Keynes, where I have been since April 2011, looking to make education effective for the whole child and keeping a distant relationship with the powers that be and their narrowing approach to education... but most of all I am looking to find out what it means to be both a follower of Jesus Christ and a passionate educator in the midst of an unsettled community. I am also a part time musician, part time linguist and lover of history and literature...committed both to freedom to learn and depth of learning for all our children. The views on this blog are all my own, and not in any way those of the school I lead!

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