Michael Gove

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.

Education at the Crossroads

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The coalition government has launched a colossal attack on all aspects of our education system. Terry Wrigley argues that this is an acceleration of previous governments' policies to drive the market into the heart of learning and will deepen a class hierarchy of institutions and students.


A police officer amid the aftermath of students' "Day X3" protest in December. Photo: Geoff Dexter

Edubusiness unchained

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Since the passing of the Academies Act in July 2010 a new wave of privatisation has been unleashed on our schools. Conversion of outstanding schools to academies or the creation of new "free" schools is allowing edubusiness to expand rapidly.

Ark, EACT and the Harris Academy chain have announced business plans to double the number of academies they control. They are also using the new opportunities to create free schools.

It is a strategy that fits hand in glove with cuts to education budgets and the Tories' idea of a "smaller state". In education minister Michael Gove's world the future is for more and more schools to be privatised so that by the end of the parliament academies are "the norm".

Shame Academy

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The new government has launched a "radical reform" plan to expand the academies programme and introduce "free" schools. This threatens the future of state education by entrenching social segregation. It will also be disastrous for the pay and conditions of school staff and will destroy accountability and democracy in the education system.

Michael Gove, the new secretary of state for education, has written to head teachers in schools judged by Ofsted to be "outstanding" asking if they would like to become academies. The government has removed legal requirements for schools to consult staff and parents about the decision to turn a school into an academy. This is now decided at just one meeting of a school's governing body.

Selling our schools: the ABC of privatisation

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As we head into the general election campaign it's hard to put a cigarette paper between the education policies of the three main parties. They all offer the same diet of privatisation and cuts.

Sponsorship of academies has enabled a series of national and multinational corporations to gain reputational value. Lucrative contracts for other education services have flowed.

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