Michael Gove criticised by Lord Baker for policies based on 'his own educational experience'
The former education secretary's comments cap week when Mr Gove’s free school plans have triggered a rift at the heart of the coalition
Thursday 24 October 2013
Michael Gove’s flagship policies are “entirely derived from his own educational experience”, Margaret Thatcher’s former education secretary has claimed.
The Conservative peer Lord Baker said that Mr Gove – who has championed a controversial agenda including the free schools programme, exam reforms and changes to teachers’ pay and pensions – was pushing through plans that could fail children who did not have his natural advantages.
Speaking at the Sir John Cass Foundation Lecture at the Cass Business School this week, Lord Baker, who was Education Secretary from 1986 to 1989, said: “Michael Gove had a tough upbringing and he believes if he did it, anybody in the country could do what he did: whether they’re orphans, whether they’re poor, whether they’re impoverished, they can all rise to the top. That is not actually true, and that is dominating the attitude of a key minister in government.”
Mr Gove reportedly attended a state school in Aberdeen before winning a scholarship to the private Robert Gordon’s College in 1979, where he excelled.
Lord Baker’s criticism was not reserved for Mr Gove. In comments reported by Civil Service World magazine, he said David Cameron was “not that interested in education, frankly”, and described prime ministerial views on schooling as “not worth listening to”.
His comments capped a week when Mr Gove’s free school plans have triggered a rift at the heart of the coalition that led Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister, to criticise the “ideology” at the heart of his proposals. In extracts of a speech Mr Clegg was due to give today he said: “There are aspects of schools policy currently affected by the priorities of the Conservative Party which I would not want to see continue.
“Parents don’t want ideology to get in the way of their children’s education. They don’t care about the latest political label attached to their child’s school.”
In the wake of several high-profile free school failures, including the Al-Madinah school in Derby, which was described as “dysfunctional” by Ofsted, Labour branded the scheme a “dangerous free-for-all” and an “out-of-control ideological experiment”.
Since Mr Gove established the programme in 2011, hundreds have opened. But this week even Jonathan Simons, head of education at Policy Exchange – a think-tank closely linked to Mr Gove – said free schools must not be protected from a system of “clear accountability which we rightly expect all other publicly funded schools to work within”.
Christine Blower, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, which has been at loggerheads with the Department for Education over the reforms, said Lord Baker’s comments were “yet another nail in the coffin” for Mr Gove’s “personal vision for education”.
“It really is time we returned to evidence-based education policies,” she told The Independent.
Lord Baker, who this week launched his plans for “career colleges” for 14- to 19-year-olds to fill a “skills gap” among young people, said Lady Thatcher, a former Education Secretary herself, had been “rather ashamed” of having “signed the death of more grammar schools than any other secretary of state since the war”.
When approached last night, the Department for Education declined to comment on Lord Baker’s remarks.
Andreas Lubitz: Who is Germanwings co-pilot who 'locked out captain and crashed flight 9525'?
Germanwings crash: The poignant final photograph taken by Iranian journalist on doomed flight after watching Barcelona play Real Madrid
#FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Cate Blanchett loses temper during interview: 'That's your f**king question?'
Jeremy Clarkson calls on trolls to leave producer Oisin Tymon alone: 'None of this is his fault'
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Vote Ukip, says far-right group Britain First
- 1 JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
- 2 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 3 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 4 Video shows what happens when lava is poured onto ice
- 5 Cate Blanchett loses temper during interview: 'That's your f**king question?'
£25,880 – £28,610 per annum: Imperial College London: Imperial College London ...
£26,976 - £31,614 per annum: University College London: UCL Information Servic...
£30 - 32k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking an Instructional / e-Learning De...
£30500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Schools Education & Careers Executive ...