Gove’s big speech today is being reported as him having ‘big ambitions’ for state schools. Once again the media have missed the point. Gove has denigrated state schools, suggesting that if they try really hard they might get to be as good as independent, fee-paying schools. We obviously need someone in the media to have a look at the facts: do we really have to rehearse the arguments? Selection, children from privileged backgrounds, more money, better facilities, yadda, yadda (as Gove might say). Children in state schools (many of whom are already half-way there via academy status) should have all the advantages of independents: sport, school plays, orchestras, debating societies (no, I can’t think of many state schools that DON’T have most of these things, either, though rarely in fancy halls and gyms donated by former alumni); oh, and cadet forces!
So, we want state schools to have, er, what they’ve already got plus ways of punishing bad behaviour that they’ve already thought of (and in some cases, rejected, like ‘lines’, not a great way to encourage writing for pleasure). In short the classic politician’s trick of proposing what is already happening as though it isn’t so the electorate can believe he’s going to bring it about.
We need opposition spokespeople and journalists who will expose this insulting and inaccurate tosh. However, we still seem to be fixated by the non-story of whether a New Labour apparatchik should be reappointed to head the ‘independent’ OFSTED. Once again, the story is framed completely wrongly.