Mr Gove is no longer SoS for Education. I imagine that there won’t be anyone reading this who doesn’t know he’s gone. As far as I can see, no one was expecting him to go from Education before the election. Maybe Mr Cameron really did want one of his big hitters in the whips’ office in the run up to the 2016 election (……?……). Mr Gove has always been SoS since I started following edu-events on twitter, and it is hard to imagine what that experience will be like now he is no longer there. Will soon find out, though.
The departure has prompted many people to comment on what they think Mr Gove achieved, and I have thought about some of these things,…and this has led me into thinking about Potential, Tall Poppy Syndrome and Opportunity.
Mr Gove appears to have shaken things up considerably. The previous administration also shook things up, but did it in a slower, more ambiguous way (for example, I recall teachers’ salaries were increased quite early on, and there was a significantly higher number of TAs introduced – alongside the academies and league tables). Labour’s underlying philosophy appeared to be that more money was required in schools (which it was). Mr Gove’s driving philosophy appears to boil down to: Higher Expectations. I am not convinced by some of the policy implementations, but am convinced that (at the level of the State) education should be about high expectations, and how to bring it about in schools. And the edu-discussion does now appear to be about the best ways to drive high expectations into the State edu-system. This is, in my opinion, a very, very good thing.
A word about Potential and Opportunity. High Expectations are for everyone, and it is this that generates Opportunity. All humans have an upper limit to their potential (I don’t believe that anyone can achieve anything if they try hard enough), but I think that for the vast majority of students their upper limit is not going to be encountered whilst at school, and the edu-system should not think that it will be. I also think that an individual’s potential is not knowable at an early age (below the age of, say, 30), and, again, the edu-system shouldn’t behave as if it is knowable. In short, High Expectations for everyone; and the edu-system making it so.
Tall Poppy Syndrome? (Frankly, I love this term – which I think originated in Australia….although, as an urbanite, I did have some initial difficulty understanding the natural world allusion). It must become acceptable in Society to want to be ‘clever’, but without lionising the clever. It isn’t geeky, nerdy or ‘special’ to aspire to cleverness – and no one should find it threatening. (Well, one step at a time, I guess).
So, Gove-legacy? Putting High Expectations firmly at the top of the edu-system agenda…….(in my opinion).