Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Ready to govern

Michael Gove's speech today showed the real talent of the Conservative Party. It was a forward-looking speech, that showed the Conservatives as ready to govern. It was a real blessing to read.

Education failure is very true in Britain, however much the government tries to inflate grades. The curriculum is dumbed down, I experience it now, I notice how past paper questions get easier the more recent they are. I noticed how much of a joke the new Science GCSE was. Will it help me at all in later life? Probably not. Across the curriculum, there's too much emphasis on the environment, and "global citizenship", whatever that's meant to mean. I notice how none of these subjects, even Economics at A Level, try to get you to develop your own opinions.

I've heard teachers say that even if we fail, they still get paid. Is that right? Clearly not. Either way, to pass, all you have to do is memorise how to answer questions, and whatever rubbish is on the syllabus (sorry, specification) this week.

I think Michael Gove hit the right notes in his speech. He has a real agenda, a real way forward; he sees the problem and is setting out how to change it. He wants to set schools free from bureaucrats - which is the right way to go about radical education reform. Teachers, and the teaching profession, know what's right, they know what works - they've been there before. Bureaucrats haven't, and neither have most government ministers.

I think there's one more thing that Gove needs to do to complete this - and that's allow new "Swedish-style" schools to make profits. That way they have a capital base to expand, to build more schools, to make them demand-responsive - that's the way it works in Sweden. If he doesn't, I don't see the take-up being as great, which will turn public opinion against it wrongly. Thatcher started the revolution in the attitude to wealth, reversing the post-war collectivist consensus; now we need to continue this - there's nothing wrong with allowing the education and health sectors to make profits, since it will allow innovation and indeed demand response - if they try to make profit rather than educate properly, parents will take their children elsewhere, simple.

But generally it's a real shining light. Gove or Balls as Education Secretary? It's not hard to decide.

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