Back in the Gove

“Are you really saying to young people and employers today that dead languages are more important than business studies, engineering, ICT, music and RE?,”

Andy Burnham asked this question in the Commons on Monday. As a teacher, these are the type of questions that we want answered. This was the response from Michael Gove;

“I am surprised you have the brass neck to stand here and say working-class children shouldn’t study modern foreign languages, shouldn’t study science, shouldn’t study history and shouldn’t study geography”.

Now correct me if I’m wrong but Burnham wasn’t saying that working class children shouldn’t study modern languages, science, history or geography for that matter.

Maybe Gove is confused? Maybe in his world latin or biblical hebrew are modern languages. Languages that are at the cutting edge of business in this modern age? Maybe we missed the Apple launch of the next generation of iPad with dual dictionary capability? The dual dictionary that not only predicts english spellings but also latin? Steve Jobs was heard uttering the words Carpe diem as he showed off his new toy?

Burnham was making a legitimate point about the introduction of the English Baccalaureate. Not once have I heard an opposition MP complain that those aforementioned subjects weren’t important, or shouldn’t be studied by working class children. The complaint is that the process of introducing such a measure as the EBACC was so fudged, that it wasn’t fair to schools or students. Students that are being judged against something they had no control over since they took their options 2 years prior whilst in year 9.

The other complaint now, is that, just with BSF, Gove is once again not listening to people at the coal face. Questions have been raised about the modern importance of subjects such as ICT, business studies, engineering, etc. Those legitimate questions have been cynically manipulated to argue that you can’t have have both sets of subjects. It’s the old Bushism, you’re either with Gove or you’re against him. You either believe that ICT is worthwhile and hebrew isn’t. In which case you some how think that working class children are thick. His axis of evil seems to consist of business studies, ICT, engineering and subjects considered ‘vocational’.

I’m not going to go into the specifics of those subjects and how they are as much academic as they are vocational; or even comment on the fact that having a vocation is somehow now wrong. A child can study any subject that they want to. I know of schools that offer 2 GCSE options in year 9, again in year 10 and once more in year 11. The school timetable can be altered to fit everything in.

My major gripe is once again levelled at Gove. No one is saying that history, geography, science, english, maths, french or german aren’t important. But that’s the argument he seems to want to have. When is he going to answer the question about latin having more importance than ICT? Maybe he can’t? Maybe he should Ask Jeeves, maybe he should search on Wikipedia? Maybe he should seize the day and answer the bloody question?

Gove needs to work on his defero, Burnham is adept at asking the questions that should see Gove put firmly in his locus.

Lasting moment of change?

So it’s all change at the top…yesterday saw the start of something special, something very special. That’s right yesterday saw the start of Junior Apprentice…over the next few weeks we get to see ‘Lord’ Alan beat the shit out of little, annoying teenagers, most probably because they are little, annoying teenagers. Ironic really that as we see the birth of a new government, a government rooted in the Thatcherite policies of old, that we also see on our screens the birth of the next generation of ‘Loads-A-Monies’.

So we ask the question, has this new Con-Dem government really brought the change in politics that they proclaim so loudly? Nick Clegg has spent the past 4 weeks trying to convince everyone, which he has done to some degree, that he is the 2nd coming (the first of course is his new friend Dave Cameron). He has told us repeatedly that he wants to change the way that Westminster works, that “the only choice you have is between the two old parties who’ve been taking it in turns to run things for years.”, hitting us with his campaign mantra of ‘Change that works for you, building a fairer Britain’. We all know where ‘Dave’ stands on change, its change this, change that, vote for change. Well how well do Con-Dem stand up to this idea of change? Lets look at some figures (Courtesy of Newsnight);

  • 65% of the the new cabinet went to either Oxford or Cambridge (15% of Tony Blair’s first cabinet were Oxbridge)
  • 61% of the new cabinet were educated at private schools
  • 4 members of the cabinet are women (would we even have Theresa May in the cabinet if Chris Grayling, ironically, hadn’t come out as a raving homophobe (the word ‘change’ once again rings loudly in the ears. Their were 8 women in Blair’s & 5 in Brown’s first cabinet)
  • 1 cabinet member is from an ethnic minority (she’s also a woman)
  • There are no ethnic minority MPs within the Parliamentary Lib Dem party.

Surely if you want to sell a different type of politics then you need a different type of face? What we see is that the change that they offered was a change from a progressive, representative cabinet to a change back to a government that now once again looks very white, very male, very upper middle class and very elitist. At least the Tory party from the 70’s and 80’s had a woman that was there simply not to make up the numbers.

Where does that leave them on the ‘change’ front? Well after 3 years of rebranding from ‘Dave’ and all the trumpeted ‘change’ nonsense from ‘Nick’ we see very little change in the look of the government. How about the ‘change’ to their policies? Lets take the ‘Big Society’ that Dave offered us.

When Cameron stated in his first speech as PM that he wanted to ‘change’ Britain from ‘One where we don’t just ask what are my entitlements, but what are my responsibilities’, he was selling his vision of change to the country. 23 years earlier Maggie stated that ‘People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations’. The words may have changed but the sentiment hasn’t – its worth noting that Maggie also said in the same speech that ‘there was no such thing as society’ – we all know what happened next – society itself crumbled…we are still suffering the hang-over from that 80’s party.

So in the same week that the budding ‘Loads-a-monies’ of the early 21st century launch their quest for loads of money, the old ‘Loads-of-monies’ of the late 20th century launch their quest for change…the only problem is, they haven’t!

The government of change. Source BBC