At the very least, Michael Gove is selective with the truth. Deviously and deceptively he has pursued a campaign to demolish state education. (1) Ambitious for a five year parliament, he hopes the speed of his changes (2) will ensure they are permanent, schools ensnared in long term contracts. We observe school-bully tactics and, where sweeteners did not work, Gove forcibly ensured the conversion to Academies.
No longer does the public believe him, and recent polls (YouGov) YouGov Education and Skills show confidence declining. The conservatives led on Education in January and are now 10 points behind Labour. (24 % compared with 34% Labour)
Early in this parliament, Gove instigated visits to observe the highly performing Finnish Education system regarded as one of the best in the world. Subsequently, the Finnish free-school model was included in the government’s white paper. Simultaneously, the media continued to drive home the message of failing schools, and sell us the Academy argument, veiling the truth of the plan to privatise.
What was obvious to observers who visited Finland is how teaching is regarded as one of the most prestigious careers, along with medicine and law. Children enjoyed learning. They were allowed to develop interest are not constantly jumping through the hoops of competition, which achieves nothing but to label children as failures. Education provision for sick children is enabled by technology. There is a lot of snow in Finland, but children unable to get to school can still access lessons. Gove’s policies are hitting the education of sick children in the UK (3) harder than ever.
Finnish communities differed than British towns, where contrasting affluent and less affluent residential areas demonstrate the inequality in our society. Inequality is perpetuated because of the power exercised by a privileged minority, products of a private education system.
“Finland’s educational system. Fascinating thing about three decades ago Finland has an educational system that is doing terribly and they look around and they go okay what are we going to do about this, we gotta revamp the whole thing.”
Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian discuss the revolutionary educational system Finland has instituted and the results of that system on the education of their children. Read more about it here (4), (5)
Every child in Finland must have access to good schools. Having a parallel private and state schools prevents this. There can be no true comprehensive school system while the elitist private school system exists. It was a brave decision to make it illegal to charge for education in Finland. Banning private education should improve education for all children. (6), (7)
In mentioning the revered the Finnish system in his white paper, Gove omits to state the most obvious factors.
Privately funded education is banned in Finland.
The emphasis is on equality, and not excellence.
There is no standardised testing until 16.
Competition is frowned upon.
Children are encouraged to follow their interests, and develop their skills, rather than forced to follow a homogenised curriculum devised by governments.
Teachers are well paid, well qualified and respected in the community.
Without supporting evidence , Mr Gove’s justification for his changes were that the education system was failing. This demonstrates more deceit.
In January 2011 he said, “In the last ten years, we have plummeted in the world rankings from 4th to 16th for science, 7th to 25th for literacy and 8th to 28th for maths. These are facts from which we cannot hide.”
Yet, recent reports assess the UK Education system as sixth in the world (8), but this is unlikely to feature on Mr Gove’s press release.
Any educationalist knows that competition kills learning. What it does facilitate is a means to ensure to the privileged few prosper. The furore which followed the fiasco of the GCSE English results, demonstrates how Gove plans for more children to fail.The European Baccalaureate is examined at 18, but Gove’s Bac is proposed at 16. The recent introduction of the English Baccalaureate concentrates on core subjects of English, Maths, Science, a foreign language and humanities. Creative subjects are sidelined. Teachers must be allowed to focus on the children they teach, not tables and achievement targets.
Mr Gove, please can we have our schools back? And most important of all, our children?
- Academisation and the Demolition of our Education System
- New Statesman: Why whirlwind Gove is acting so fast.
- Academisation and the Neglect of Sick Children
- The Atlantic: What American Schools keep ignoring about Finnish Schools Success
- Video on Finnish Education system by Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian
- Local Schools Network: Would abolishing private schools improve education of all our children?
- Video Excerpt from talk by Pasi Sahlberg in the House of Commons. Sahlberg is, as his website tells us, Director General of CIMO in Helsinki, Finland.
- Local Schools Network: UK is 6th in international education league
- Local Schools Network: Where is the evidence of Private Sector Delivery?