Michael Gove was on Newsnight last night, and it was almost pleasant to be reminded what a smarmy politician he is. Gove had to defend various Tory policies including opposition to Labour’s plans to abolish non-dom tax status, and he was like a hammy actor delivering lines he knew to be untrue. As I tweeted this morning, he clearly represents the bilious, nasty true DNA of the Tory party!
The Conservative’s education policy has been a failure, particularly for children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. Under the last Labour Government,through our investment and successful programs such as Teach First, British schools gradually rose up the international league tables. In 1997 we inherited an education system in chaos, and we made slow and steady progress.
The Conservative’s policy is setting us backwards again. Gove has wasted over a billion on his Free School vanity project when we have a chronic shortage of primary school places and are ripping the further education sector to shreds.
Here in Huddersfield we have excellent colleges such as Kirklees College and Greenhead which have had their funding cut drastically by the Tory Government. This is disastrous because further education is one of the most important engines of social mobility we have built in this country.
We know that the Tories have tripled tuition fees to £9000 per term meaning that students will leave University with a debt that most of them will never repay. Labour has pledged to reduce tuition fees to 6k which is a much fairer deal for students.
At the same time Gove cut the Educational Maintenance Allowance meaning that many more children from poorer backgrounds will struggle get a decent education.
Morale in the teaching profession is at an all time low. I meet talented and clever young people who have been or are quitting teaching all the time, which is a crying shame because it can be one of the most rewarding jobs around.
The oddest and in some ways the most disturbing aspect of Gove’s education policy has been his determination to crow-bar his own peculiar eccentricities into the history curriculum and wider school syllabuses. Nick Clegg talked today about how Gove would compile lists of Medieval kings which he believed it was imperative that all children should learn.
We all know Gove was sacked from the job of Education Secretary because he was so toxic to the public. But though his replacement Nicky Morgan may be a more emollient and likeable figure, the policies remain the same.