Richard Garner: Education conflicts look set to continue


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The Independent Online

The Department for Education, under Michael Gove, is no stranger to conflict.

Perhaps the most damaging rift came with Nick Clegg over proposed exam reforms. Essentially, Clegg vetoed Gove’s plans to replace GCSEs with an O-level style exam – although Gove eventually got most of what he wanted.

Gove kept his most colourful language for teachers who opposed his drive to create free schools – describing them as Marxists and “enemies of promise” while 100 academics who protested that reforms to the national curriculum would alienate pupils were likened to “The Blob”, an amoeba which threatened to take over the planet.

The abrasive culture was encouraged by his special adviser Dominic Cummings, who once told me I should consult a fellow education correspondent about a “good therapist” – insinuating we were both loopy.

Mr Cummings celebrated  his last day in the office yesterday. Expect, though, to see more clashes as David Laws, Gove’s No 2, made it clear he will be setting out the differences between Tory and Liberal Democrat thinking.