Michael Gove: Giving parents power is the way to better education

Like his colleagues, he keeps making the wrong decision under pressure

Share
Related Topics

Leadership, wrote Ed Balls in
The Independent this week, is about making the right judgements under pressure. Unfortunately, he is in grave danger of flunking his own test. When he was put under pressure this week to announce spending cuts, what did he choose to do? Not cut the swollen education quango budget, or slash the administrative budget in his own department, but instead plans to sack 3,000 deputy headteachers: precisely the skilled and experienced frontline staff our education system depends on. This is not systemic reform; it is a failure of judgement by a government that has run out of ideas and is fast running out of time.

It's not just Ed Balls whose judgement has publicly failed under pressure. As the pressure built on the Government to take action on the spiralling deficit, the Prime Minister chose to treat the public like fools. While the Treasury was drawing up secret plans for 10 per cent cuts in public services, Gordon Brown continued to draw a dividing line between "Labour investment and Tory cuts". That is why only 14 per cent of the public trust the Government to tell the truth about the state of public finances.

By contrast, David Cameron and George Osborne have been honest with the British public, and consistently made clear that spending cuts would be necessary to deal with Labour's debt crisis. This was the right decision, which is why Nick Clegg has been scrambling to catch up with his call for "savage cuts" and why Mr Balls was pressurised into announcing his own flimsy proposals for making savings in the education budget.

On public services too, we have made the right judgements under pressure. While Mr Brown has consistently refused to reform them, we continue to develop detailed policies that will decentralise power, improve transparency and deliver better public services and better value for money. Only by introducing a new culture of professionalism and accountability to the public can we deliver more for less, and drive up standards in every area of the public sector.

Take education, for example. One in five children who leave school do so without a single C pass at GCSE, effectively deprived of any qualification an employer would value. And it is the poorest in society who are worst affected by this failure. More than 26,000 pupils got three As at A-level last year yet the number of free school meals pupils securing passes was just 189. Three times as many boys at Eton got three As than the entire male population eligible for free meals. Mr Balls's response? Instead of reforming the education system, he has gone in precisely the opposite direction, strangling academies by putting them under local authority control and imposing counterproductive new legal regulations.

Labour's plans to increase bureaucratic interference in education runs counter to the approach being taken by progressives around the world. Barack Obama has backed plans to get more schools outside bureaucratic control and use new freedoms to pay more for good teachers. Sweden has already shown how liberating schools from town hall bureaucracies encourages innovation, gets new talent into teaching and raises standards for all. This reform, successfully implemented as they emerged from a financial crisis of their own, has led to nine hundred new schools being established - by foundations, charities, co-operatives and others – and they have attracted pupils by offering better discipline and higher standards.

This is the approach a Conservative government will take. We will allow publicly-funded schools to be set up by a wide range of independent organisations, with a pupil premium for those children from deprived backgrounds. Parents will be able take the money the government currently spends on their child's education and spend it on the school they want. Parents who have been unhappy with existing local authority schools will be able to send their children to schools set up to give them a better alternative. This is our vision: an end to Labour's education failures, and a school system that trusts parents and liberates teachers.

Time and again, Mr Balls and his Labour colleagues make the wrong judgements under pressure. They were wrong to mislead the public about Labour's plans for spending cuts. They are mistaken in their plans to sack thousands of deputy headteachers and reverse education reforms. At some point in the next six months, the public will be given the chance to pass judgement on Labour's leadership. Mr Balls and his friends do not deserve to pass that test.

The author is the Tory spokesman on Children, Schools and Families

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Solutions Consultant (financial services)

£50000 - £65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: SQL Solutions Consultant (financi...

Implementation Consultant - Business Analyst, SQL

£50000 - £70000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading prov...

Application Support - Unix, Linux, Windows, Bash, Perl, Python

£55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: An established leader in the Trading Syste...

Senior IOS Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Sami Khedira of Germany runs past Oscar of Brazil with the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match between Brazil and Germany  

Germany’s demolition of Brazil shows just what Teutonic efficiency and foresight can achieve

Mark Steel
Will Lord Patten be able to bring the Vatican into the 20th century?  

Say a little prayer for Lord Patten — the Vatican works in mysterious ways

Peter Popham
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil