Thursday, 20 January 2011

Michael Gove

Michael Gove wants children to learn more facts. Why? Because we can benchmark more easily. He just kind of slipped that in to his interview on the Today programme where they were all very matey together (Gove used to work on the programme as a researcher).

Governments always want something to measure in the slippery world of education. It started with Robert Lowe, who brought in 'Payment by Results' back in the nineteenth century. Because schools and teachers were paid according to how well the kids learnt the few things they were tested on (the three 'R's - amazing how persistent these ideas are) the teachers taught to the test and the kids didn't learn very much. Later Lowe said, and I quote approximately from memory, 'if we could have found anything more easy to measure we would have used that.'

Gove says that he isn't going to tell us which facts to teach. He's appointed a bunch of his mates to do that. There isn't a single headteacher from a comprehensive on the panel. I'm not surprised - we expect this kind of thing from the Tories. But I don't hear much from their coalition partners on this subject. Do any of them really care about education? Do any of them ever read education research findings? If they do then they ignore them. I don't suppose you climb to the top in politics by listening to teachers and researchers.