Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

Gove me a break #gove

Michael Gove, Education secretary has come up with some new plans for English education that make me glad to be in Scotland. According to the BBC:

Mr Gove says that he wants to push state schools further so that they become indistinguishable from private schools.

He says he wants schools to be able to stay open longer for nine or 10 hour days. This would allow more time for after-school activities or to provide a place for children to do their homework.

I am all for excellence, as described in previous post, but this snooty one-size-fits-all idea just grates with me. The private schools I have set foot in could be described as shabby at best, in terms of the fabric of the building. Admittedly, it was years ago, but I once had a student placement in a private school and my one conclusion was “what a waste of money”. For all the blazers looked great, the children were no more familiar with the full stop than the next child in the street.

Having schools open longer just institutionalises children more. Are there not enough children suffering from a lack of love/contact/meaningful relationships in a family setting without forcing a wider wedge between parents and children?

There is a reason that school days stop when they do. The children have the right to a private life. They have the right to spend time with their friends and families – not banged up for ten hours a day crying over the finer points of music theory until bedtime. Also, they get tired. They get tired throughout the day and as the week progresses. Why flog a dead horse of a Friday afternoon? Why not let a live horse out to go and do what it liked?

Ah yes but… what about the children who are better off away from their parents, who may be unable to provide the nurturing environment that would be the best for their child? I doubt that an institution is best as a remedy. Support of the family should be offered, rather than a replacement offered. It is a poor reason to institutionalise millions of children because a minority of parents aren’t up to the job of parenting. Schools can’t parent either. They are schools. They can school.

And the behaviour thing. Children aren’t badly behaved, generally. Some children have behavioural difficulties that need to be addressed – but picking up litter may solve a litter problem, but it’s hardly likely to undo the damage that caused a behavioural difficulty for a child.

These are children. Can’t they be treated like children? And have, like, I dunno…. a childhood?

Okay, so it would be nice to turn up in any state-funded establishment and think “Ooh, I’d willingly pay £10,000” a year to send my child here – and maybe some places do need to sort out their ethos – but children are individuals; communities and their needs vary: one size does not fit all.

Much as the Scottish education system entertains me with its own level of farce and irony, Gove’s ideas always leave me with my jaw on the floor and  my Saltire waving high and proud.

Cheesy as it is, in Scotland we want our children to be safe, healthy, achieving, responsible, included, active, respected and nurtured. I’d rather have that than have them in ironed shirts, weighed down with hockey sticks and trombones.


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7 thoughts on “Gove me a break #gove

  1. At some point it goes beyond educating to kidnapping.

    This was well-said, Sans, and I do understand. And it’s not-very-slowly spreading.

  2. I completely understand your point of view and I think that your response is spot on!

  3. As an educational psychologist, I agree with you 100% I started out feeling positive about Gove. But he seems to think there is one best way to teach – that all students are the same. And that is as disastrous as thinking that punishment is an effective tool for anybody. What worked for Gove might be excellent for some, but will be destructive for others. We have different strengths, different talents, different learning modes. Some do best with competition, some in a cooperative group. Some do best alone, some by listening, others by reading, some by hands-on, others by teaching.

    And we can say the same thing about tests. Getting all the right answers is not a sign of a capacity for creativity or original thinking. In fact, often the opposite.

    And then there is your point: there is a life outside school.

    I’ll stop. But as you can see, I do think we are on the same page.

    • 🙂
      It’s weird, though, that a man who seems to be in a minority of one manages to be the guy in charge?
      I don’t know anyone who thinks he is right on this one.

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