After last week's news about the spoof article that appeared on the Department for Education website, I look forward to a series of announcements revealing that everything Michael Gove has said since attaining office has been the work of computer-hacking satirists.
The prank article originally appeared on undergroundmgzn.com, and reported that the Education Secretary "today announced new plans to single-handedly teach every child in the UK...." Somehow, the piece was uploaded to the DfE website and stayed there for a month, despite the site's security experts being warned that it was the work of jokers and not Mr Gove. (How could they tell?)
Security experts warned that hackers "could have displayed a lot worse" having gained access to a government website, but they are wrong: there is nothing worse than a giant grinning photograph of Michael Gove. However, the fact that the hoax went unnoticed for so long makes me wonder what other alleged Gove statements might be hanging around, besmirching his reputation as a sensible man. That thing he said about making 17-year-olds read Middlemarch must have been a stitch-up, right? And that time when he complained about children reading fewer than 50 books a year, while his government's policies were causing crippling cuts to libraries? Surely some childish spoof!
On the other hand, maybe Gove really is busy setting up a giant classroom in an aircraft hangar, which would explain why other ministers have had to take over his job of insulting teachers. Last week, it was Vince Cable, who decided, while addressing a manufacturing conference, to announce that teachers "know absolutely nothing about the world of work". Colleagues later tried to play it down, but his wording displayed such distinctive Govian overtones that his speech can only have been written by the same computer algorithm that came up with the undergroundmgzn piece.
Next, apparently, Ofsted fell victim to the stunt, with its report on a school in Camden appearing to complain that its teachers are "too casual" and fail to "dress in a business-like fashion". This, it seemed to imply, explained the poor behaviour of some students, "mostly boys": "answering back … jostling and excessive boisterousness [and] some unacceptable language at break time". Of course, real Ofsted inspectors would know that dressing smartly does not prevent bad behaviour, because they have seen Prime Minister's Questions, where the boys wear suits and ties yet still act like children who require special measures.
It strikes me that the Department for Education ought to find these hackers before they are well and truly shown up. Perhaps they should start in the government's "teach everyone to code in an hour" initiative. We know that it can't be that department's director, because she admitted last month that she has no idea how to code. Unless, of course, she has fallen victim to the Random Stupid Statement Generating Programme....