I was asked by a friend to give him a quick summary of Michael Gove’s policies. Here it is:
Free Schools – most important – and other systemic changes
- Gove has made it possible for any primary or secondary school to become an academy. There has been HUGE take up, despite what the unions were warning. Academy status means:
- Freedom from the Local Education Authority in financing – usually the LEA keeps 10% of the school’s budget to spend how it wants; academies keep 100% of funds.
- More freedom from the LEA over staffing: hours, holidays, pensions, salaries.
- No more freedom re: admissions (although academies tend to be more imaginative: e.g. West London Free School has quite a rare lottery system for 25% of its admissions – see point 15)
- Pupil premium: more disadvantaged children get more state money, so teachers get paid more for teaching them.
- Gove believes that most children are capable of an academic education based on a slimmed-down, core curriculum.
- His English Baccalaureate (EBacc) ranks schools on how many A* – C they have in English, Maths, 1 Language, History/Geography, 2 Sciences. And it’s working!
- This is a noticeable departure from previous, more progressive, educational thinking that stressed ‘skills’ as being on a par, or more important, than ‘knowledge’.
- Return to synthetic phonics taught for children learning how to read. (Ruth Miskin appointed as reading tsar)
In the classroom
- Tougher discipline (have appointed a behaviour tsar, Charlie Taylor)
- Less health and safety, especially with school trips
- Irwin Stelzer hopes that Michael Gove is surreptitiously, through the academies programme, trying to bring in a far more market-driven education system than he has publicly let on.
- The mark of this would be whether he allowed companies to make profit from sponsoring academies, like Charter schools in the US
- Gove challenged on his philosophy by ex-Blair aide Matthew Taylor