Education

Bad science, worse politics

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The new policy briefing on children's education by Michael Gove's top advisor is a justification for inequality

A leaked policy document from Michael Gove's top adviser, Dominic Cummings, shows the vision underpinning educational policy in England. The claim that intelligence is mainly inherited attracted most attention, and is used to justify closing hundreds of Sure Start children's centres for the most disadvantaged.

According to Cummings, these parents are poor because they are stupid, and pass on stupidity genes to their children, so it is futile to provide nurseries.

History in the making?

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After provoking even headteachers to heckle him, Michael Gove's plans for a new curriculum for school history look to be in trouble. Andrew Stone looks at the growing campaign against them

It is quite an achievement to provoke a conference of headteachers to heckle you, but education minister Michael Gove has never been short of personal ambition. The high-handed arrogance which has characterised his treatment of teachers and schools, and which prompted the backlash from the recent NAHT conference, is equally evident in his plans for school history.

Quebec: how we won

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After a six-month strike students in Quebec celebrated a victory last month when the new Parti Quebecois government announced it would reverse a planned tuition fees hike. The new government also repealed Bill 78, an emergency law introduced in May, aimed at restricting the right to protest. Aamna Mohdin and Jamie Woodcock spoke to Jérémie Bédard-Wien, a spokesperson for CLASSE, a radical student coalition that played a central role in the movement


“Half a million people marched through Montreal on 22 May - the largest ever act of civil disobedience in North America.”

Jérémie Bédard-Wien


There has been a history of student strikes in Quebec. What was the trigger for the 2012 student strike? And what was the inspiration?

GCSEs: Gove rigs the system

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The crisis in the marking of this year's GCSEs should give us one reason to be grateful: it has exposed the farce that is at the heart of our education system.

Bizarrely but predictably, the coalition has used this crisis to produce a dog's dinner of a "reform" which does nothing more than buttress up a faulty apparatus. As usual, the real motor that drives educational underachievement is hidden from view.

It is quite reasonable for teachers and learners to have a method of assessing what is being understood and what skills are being acquired. It is quite another to create a system which pits pupils, teachers and schools against each other that makes a fact-accumulating approach dominate education entirely.

Class barriers

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As half a million students begin university this month Rob Ferguson looks at the consequences of cuts and fees on applications

This September around half a million students will begin a university education - 36 percent of all school leavers. In 1962 a mere 20,000 school leavers entered university. The landscape of higher education has been transformed over past decades. In east London, where I now work, thousands of young people, male and female, many from Asian backgrounds, enter university who could not have dreamt of doing so 20 years ago. Vocational and Access qualifications now provide an important route to university for many working class students and mature workers.

Growing up in Goveland: how politicians are wrecking schools

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The leaking of Michael Gove's plans to return to O-levels in place of GCSEs reignited a row about "falling standards" in British schools. Here Terry Wrigley argues it is not enough for the left to simply dismiss such claims - instead we must argue that the root of the problem lies in the marketisation of education

Right wing politicians like nothing better than a good disaster. Disasters give them an excuse to intervene and make matters worse. If there wasn't a financial crisis, Cameron's gang would have to invent one. Now education secretary Michael Gove is using supposed "falling standards" to destroy comprehensive education and condemn most working class pupils to a second rate education. By abolishing GCSEs and restoring the old "O-level", he is trying to return to the days when only a minority of 16 year olds took a school-leaving exam.

What has the local education authority ever done for us?

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As the Tories accelerate the drive for schools to become Academies,
Terry Wrigley looks at why local education authorities are being sidelined

There has been widespread opposition to the government's reform of how the NHS is governed, and an understanding that the new structures would accelerate privatisation. Most people reject the idea of healthcare being run as a business. Despite active local campaigns and union opposition, why has popular opposition to the privatisation of schools as academies been more muted?

Get Gove

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Michael Gove, the education secretary, has launched a new wave of academies expansion - forced academies. After the last election Gove rushed the Academies Act through parliament. Last November, almost unnoticed in the wider crisis, he extended his powers to directly intervene in local schools and convert them into academies. The justification is that these are "underperforming" schools.

Gove claims he is a champion of "social justice," and that academies are about helping the neediest. Nothing could be further from the truth. By 2015 Gove will have overseen a 15 percent cut in school budgets in real terms. Programmes such as one to one tuition, behaviour improvement and ethnic minority support programmes are being sacrificed, while Gove now has more centralised power than any previous secretary of state.

By Gove: education and the Murdoch Empire

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On 3 October, at a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference, education secretary Michael Gove went out of his way to sing the praises of Rupert Murdoch. Gove admitted that he remained "a great admirer of Rupert Murdoch, he's a force of nature, a phenomenon, he's a great man". For a senior minister to still admit to being one of Murdoch's creatures is quite remarkable, but there was a good reason for Gove standing by his man: Murdoch has a central role in Tory plans for British education.

During their first fourteen months in office, Cabinet ministers met senior News International executives 130 times. Over a quarter of these meetings involved David Cameron himself. While in no way wishing to be fair to Cameron, it has to be admitted that his government was merely continuing a long established tradition of British governments kow-towing to Murdoch. This tradition began to take shape under Harold Wilson in the late 1970s, was consolidated under Thatcher, was deepened and extended under Blair and Brown and was set to become even more extravagant under Cameron.

Degrees of marketisation

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The new Higher Education White Paper marks a step change in the neoliberal transformation of universities. Jim Wolfreys looks at the ideology behind the government's plans, what it will mean for students, staff and the nature of teaching, and how we can resist

The government's Higher Education White Paper will disrupt and potentially break up the existing system of higher education in England, deterring poorer students from university, subordinating teaching and research to the logic of privatisation and competition, and paving the way for the closure both of courses and of entire institutions.

It makes claims about putting "students at the heart of the system" and "excellent teaching back at the heart of every student's university experience" that are flatly and comprehensively contradicted by the entire content of the document.

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