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Education News

Michael Gove's plans 'fundamentally flawed,' says Jon Coles


Michael Gove’s plans for state schools to become more like independents is “fundamentally flawed”, one of his former civil servants says on Thursday.

The Education Secretary is encouraging all independent schools to sponsor state-financed academies to pass on tips on good practice. But writing in The Independent, Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department for Education, says: “The great teacher in an academically selective school may not be a great teacher in an urban comprehensive school where pupils’ attainment on entry is well below national average. And vice versa.”

Last week, Mr Gove argued he was in favour of knocking down the “Berlin Wall” between the two sectors and for state schools to open for up to 10 hours a day so pupils could do “prep” in school.

However, Mr Coles said pleas from successive governments for independent schools to pass on their “DNA” to state schools had made “fundamentally flawed” assumptions that there is “a one-way flow of knowledge... from independent to state schools”.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “As the Secretary of State made clear in his recent speech, the best state schools are every bit as good as excellent private schools. This government’s ambition is simple - for standards to be so high that there is no noticeable difference between state and independent schools.”