Chalk Talk: Will the real Education Secretary please stand up?

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Two Michael Goves! There's only two Michael Goves!" That was the cry that came to mind after spending the May Day Bank Holiday weekend at the seaside with the National Association of Head Teachers.

There's the one the delegates were talking about during their motions in the run-up to the appearance of the Education Secretary. He, we were assured, was in danger of destroying state education as we know it with the impending public service cuts.

He also had to be told that heads were in no mood to compromise over national curriculum tests for 11-year-olds in maths and English. If he did not come up with substantive reforms to the tests as a result of a government-ordered review to be published next month, they would have no alternative but to resume their boycott of the tests next year.

Oh, and by the way, 99.6 per cent of them were in favour of a strike ballot if the Coalition Government tampered with their pensions.

Then there was the nice chap in the suit who turned up on the Sunday morning and listed all the things he had done to reduce their bureaucracy burden. He would, of course, put their points to Cabinet colleagues and, yes, he acknowledged, there was an unspoken contract that they would receive a good pension in exchange for lower pay during their working lives.

Oh, and on those national curriculum tests, there would have to be changes to ensure there was no more teaching to the test in future.

His speech charmed them so much that they were almost on their feet given him a standing ovation at the end of his peroration.

There used to be a panel game on ITV called Tell The Truth, in which three people pretended to be the same person and you had to guess which one was for real.

By next year's conference we should find out whether the real Michael Gove is the charming chap in the suit, the dark destroyer of England's state education service or somewhere in between.

PS: spare a thought for Michael Gove's deputy, Schools Minister Nick Gibb. He was called in by his boss a few months ago and asked what he was doing on Easter Sunday.

Gibb smiled – a lunch with the Goves seemed to be beckoning.

He was disappointed: his boss merely wanted to inform him he was on holiday and as a result Gibb was to be asked to address the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women teachers conference.

r.garner@independent.co.uk

Comments