Mr Gove’s zeal for free schools has damaged sixth-form colleges and impeded his own reforms

It is quite possible that this consequence of his other policies went unnoticed by Mr Gove until now, and may well be a source of regret for him

Share

Michael Gove is one of the most energetic figures in the Coalition Government and, unlike some of his colleagues, there is no doubting that he has a powerful sense of  purpose. And the Secretary of State for Education gets results: as we reported last month, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of pupils studying the traditional  subjects which give them the best hope of qualifying for the country’s most selective universities.

But there is a problem with his performance which has been noticeable for quite a time: he gives the impression of being in a desperate hurry. As a result his ardour to promote his pet ideas can, as we report exclusively today, have disastrous unforeseen consequences.

One of the ideas about which he is passionate is free schools. Establishing an entirely new type of school during a period of economic austerity is a challenge, and it is another sign of his ambition that, during his four years in office, he has overseen the creation of nine such schools, which compete with the existing sixth-form colleges, at a cost of £62m. But that money had to come from somewhere, and now we learn that it was largely at the expense of existing sixth-form colleges.

Is their drastic loss of funds the result of some deep-seated antipathy on Mr Gove’s part? Does he see them as horrid embodiments of what he refers to as “the Blob”, the left-leaning educational establishment bent on thwarting him at every turn?

Exclusive: Core A-level courses scrapped after Michael Gove cuts £100m from sixth-form colleges  

Just possibly – and if that is so, then it  would be another lamentable consequence  of the febrile emotion Mr Gove has brought to a brief which would benefit from cooler management.

There is however a more plausible explanation for this disastrous plunge in funding, which has forced nearly half the colleges to axe courses, including many of those in the “difficult” core subjects like maths and foreign languages that Mr Gove has, in other corners of his empire, done everything in his power to promote.

To reassure parents of its commitment to education, the Coalition Government in 2013 ring-fenced spending on schooling, along with its budgets for the National Health Service and international aid. But the commitment only covered education between the years of five and 16. Sixth-form colleges were left out in the cold.

Meanwhile, Mr Gove furiously set about fashioning his legacy, in the form of the new free schools, and displayed wiliness and determination in extracting the necessary money from the Treasury to pay for them. But those funds had to come from somewhere, and as a result the sixth-form colleges, whose only mistake was not to have been conceived and brought into existence by Mr Gove, have suffered a double whammy.

It is quite possible that this consequence of his other policies went unnoticed by Mr Gove until now, and may well be a source of regret for him. If so, he should do all in his power to repair the damage, and reflect on the risks a secretary of state runs when he behaves more like a hare than a tortoise.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Marketing Specialist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading Renewable Energy compa...

Ashdown Group: Data Warehouse & Business Intelligence Co-ordinator

£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Required skills include SQL querying, SSRS, u...

Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, PHP, HTML, JavaScript, CSS

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, HTML...

Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst- Insurance

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst - Insurance ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The demise of a Sixties monster

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
A CCTV camera is seen in front of a large poster opposite in central London  

Home Office is creating more powers to turn everyone into suspects – but leave us no safer

Shami Chakrabarti
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?