Gove doesn’t like bureaucratic interference unless it’s his bureaucratic interference

The Education Secretary has hitherto opposed government intervention in the classroom; now he wants sweeping reforms of the primary curriculum. How come?

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Education Secretary Michael Gove doesn’t like government interference with education.

He boasts:

” We’ve given all schools the opportunity to break free from local and central bureaucracy with more money for the poorest pupils. Schools want the freedom to decide what is best for pupils. .”


“we’ve been working hard to increase autonomy for all our schools. Part of this has been about reducing central and local government prescription for all schools to give heads and teachers the space to focus on what really matters.”


“The Coalition government trusts teachers to get on with their job. That’s why we are taking steps to reduce the bureaucracy they face and giving them the powers they need to do a good job. We believe that teachers – not bureaucrats and politicians – should run schools.”

It’s with some surprise, therefore, that we hear news today of Gove’s plans for sweeping reforms of the primary curriculum in a bid to restore ‘traditional values’ in the classroom.

The Daily Mail reports:

“Like generations who went to school before the 1970s, times tables up to 12 will have to be known by age nine under the new curriculum. Currently, children are given until age 11 to learn up to 10 times 10.

“Children will be made to learn how to calculate using decimal places and fractions, a key preparation for algebra. By the end of primary school, pupils will also now be required to confidently ‘read, write, order and compare numbers up to ten million and determine the value of each digit’, or its place value.

“The current National Curriculum expects pupils only to ‘show understanding of place value up to 1,000’.”

These reforms may, in and of themselves, be a good thing; they may not. However, it’s pretty odd that someone who claims to be so staunchly against government having a say in how teachers teach should seek to implement their own wide-ranging, top-down design for primary education.

See also:

Left-wing snobbery does state schools no favours 15 May 2012

Academisation, academisation, academisation 5 April 2012

Non-academies do just as well as academies 3 April 2012

Think tank Reform’s school academy claim lacks academic rigour 28 March 2012

Time to rethink our approach to teaching 16 March 2012

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