The notion of rote learning as espoused by Michael Gove suggests that if you memorise and recite something often enough, then dull repetition will be miraculously converted into knowledge. With sincerest apologies, I will repeat that Michael Gove should face arrest and charges of criminal damage and appear before a court of law with the power to impose a custodial sentence. This man and his apparatchiks are extremely dangerous.
As expected, his Ofsted boot boys have stormed into Birmingham schools with conclusions already drawn and emerged triumphantly brandishing special measures notices worthy of Aesop or, as Gove might prefer, Edward Lear. Acting on anonymous and so far unchallenged accusations of an extremist plot to “take over” Birmingham schools, inspectors uncovered no actual evidence of an extremist plot to “take over” Birmingham schools. This inconvenient fact, however, did not stop Her Majesty`s Chief Inspector of Schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, giving it large over a “culture of fear and intimidation”. To avoid any possible confusion, Sir Michael was not referring to the tactics employed by the Department for Education or, indeed, Ofsted.
Having established himself as an entity completely free or irony, Wilshaw told a dark tale of a “narrow faith-based ideology” hounding out Head Teachers and Governors having too much control over the day-to-day running of schools. It is worth repeating that as the Head Teacher of an Academy in Hackney, Wilshaw insisted on pupils standing to attention to chant a bizarre mantra about being quiet and being nice. He also claimed to “have an evangelical zeal to do Christ`s work on earth”. His double irony by-pass is evident as the stated aim of the government`s ramshackle education policy is to give governors, or “trustees” in Academies and Free Schools, more control over the day-to-day running of schools. Apart from Governors, he blamed Birmingham City Council for this dreadful state of affairs somehow forgetting that some of the schools his organisation judged as outstanding and are now failures, are Academies and so have bugger all to do with the local authority and are actually under the direct control of the Secretary of State for Education.
Michael Gove waded in by blaming Governors, Birmingham City Council, Ofsted and even his own department for these unacceptable circumstances. With great dignity and statesmanship he has said sorry to the Home Secretary for slagging her off and has said sorry to the Prime Minister for any embarrassment or, more importantly, electoral damage brought about by his congenital strangeness. He has yet to apologise to teachers, parents and, more importantly, the students suffering under his narrow faith-based ideology. But then again, Michael Gove should face arrest and charges of criminal damage and appear before a court of law with the power to impose a custodial sentence.
His department is behaving in a very odd manner and judging by the leaked documents, it would appear that Gove as the King of the Jumblies is all at sea in a sieve. It is fair to assume that Gove would prefer a sensible British author like Edward Lear on the curriculum rather than all that hysterical witch-hunt nonsense churned out by Arthur Miller. Confidential, draft Ofsted reports do not become available to the media by accident and the original Trojan letter would have been more credible if it had been leaked on DfE headed notepaper. It is suspiciously convenient that the entire brouhaha has allowed Gove to announce snap Ofsted inspections creating a culture of fear and intimidation even though no extremist plot has been uncovered.
Mandatory training will be imposed on Governors even though training is already provided by local authorities. It remains to be seen if mandatory training is applicable to the “trustees” of Academies and Free Schools currently spared the nonsense of child protection, safeguarding and safer recruitment training or the bizarre Home Office Prevent strategy. Designed to guard against radicalisation, the Home Office Prevent strategy seems to have been formulated by a deranged baboon brought up on barbiturates and moonshine tequila and postulates that resisting extremism can be achieved by ticking a box on some surreal to-do list. Of course, the Prevent strategy does not apply to priests coming into contact with children.
It will be interesting to see if an Ofsted blitz will descend on evangelical Christian Academies already in the frame for financial irregularities, the removal from the curriculum of any reference to same sex relationships or any family relationship outside of wedlock or the teaching of creationism and the stifling of creativity.
Michael Gove has a problem with delivering his Academy and Free School madness when autonomy now includes stuff that does not embrace what he is describing as “British values”. Quite how he defines “British values” is anyone`s guess but will probably include xenophobia, greed, corruption, lots of lager and bashing the missus about on a Friday night. In any other profession or trade other than politics, Gove the incompetent would be out on his ear in short order but such is the nature of “British values”, this nasty little crook is allowed to draw a vast publicly funded salary plus expenses plus perks. Labour can smell the blood of Michael Gove but the best that they can come up with is an ineffectual talking head in the shape of Tristram Hunt.
Things will eventually change but not for the better. One thing, however, will remain constant. All together now; Michael Gove should face arrest and charges of criminal damage and appear before a court of law with the power to impose a custodial sentence.