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: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineers

£26000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Assistant

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This care provider provides hom...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manager - (communications, testing, DM)

£32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manage...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Apprenticeships

£10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an outstanding opportunity for 1...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Dov Charney, the founder and former CEO of American Apparel  

American Apparel has finally fired Dov Charney, but there's no reason to celebrate just yet

Alice Nutting
Ice skating in George Square, Glasgow  

How many Christmas cards have you sent this year?

Simon Kelner
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum