Conservative Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has rejected calls for an independent body to make decisions about the school curriculum, saying parents should be able to hold politicians to account for their decisions.
What a generous statement! This is possibly the modern-day equivalent of stretching one’s neck out over the executioner’s block.
It is heartening that she is prepared to let the Conservative Party take the blame for its ‘Free Schools’ pet project, which has been rocked by successive failures including that of its flagship, the Discovery School – declared inadequate by Ofsted and shut down. The Observer revealed that former Education Secretary Michael Gove wanted to hush up further damaging revelations by ensuring that problems were tackled before Ofsted could publicise them.
Free Schools have taken billions of pounds of public money and given nothing back – certainly not an education. Academy schools – publicly-funded companies set up by central government and answering to central government and not to the local education authority or even parents – have also overspent by more than a billion pounds.
In 2013, the “ring-fenced” education budget was cut by 5.7 per cent in real terms. The remaining funds were divided up, with non-academy schools receiving a cut of 4.31 per cent, infrastructure spending was cut by 81 per cent, and academy schools received a funding increase of no less than 191 per cent.
As Kerry-Anne Mendoza put it in Austerity – The Demolition of the Welfare State and the Rise of the Zombie Economy: “The state sector is being starved of funds, while the academy sector enjoys a glut of funding, which it spends inefficiently and opaquely.”
It is also heartening that Nicky Morgan is prepared to take the flak for Tory attempts to curtail the teaching of science in our classrooms – notable in Mr Gove’s attempts to halt the study of climate change; he wanted to deny it exists.
This writer is glad that the Tories are willing to take the rap for trying to reduce World War One into a display of “patriotism, honour and courage” while deriding examples of popular culture like Oh, What a Lovely War! and Blackadder Goes Forth. Gove claimed that the war was a “noble cause” and a “just” conflict against the “social Darwinism” of the Germans, while Blackadder portrayed it as “a misbegotten shambles – a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite. Even to this day there are Left-wing academics all too happy to feed those myths.”
It is, frankly, terrifying that a man with such ludicrous and – in context – dangerous views has held the position of Secretary of State for Education.
Do you remember Kate Nash on the BBC’s This Week, ripping into Gove’s attitude that learning-by-rote is better than understanding and creativity? She said: “There are certain things we need to be addressing, that are being completely missed – and that’s to do with education being inspiring and interesting for young people, rather than just about purely passing tests and pressure.”
Television historian Simon Schama has described Gove’s curriculum as “insulting and offensive”. He told an audience at the Hay Festival, “This is a document written by people who have never sat and taught 12-year-olds in a classroom.”
There are many more examples of Tory education ineptitude, but let’s finish this with a poem – ‘Dear Mr Gove’ by Jess Green, from only a little less than a year ago. At the time Vox Political first publicised this video, I wrote: “If enough parents saw, and listened, and thought about what this poem says – about their own lives and the lives their children can expect thanks to the worst-ever British government, perhaps it might persuade them to think again before putting their cross next to the Conservative candidate at the next few elections.
“It isn’t rocket science.”
Oh, and if you’re wondering why this article hasn’t mentioned any of Nicky Morgan’s achievements as Education Secretary, the reason is that she simply hasn’t had any.
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