Michael Gove has been demoted from Britain’s secretary of state for education to the position of chief whip.
For the past four years, Gove’s school reforms have had teachers unions up in arms. The reforms included the creation of independent free schools, performance-based teacher pay, an overhaul of the exams system, and creating a “back-to-basics” national curriculum, writes Joe Murphy for The London Evening Standard.
According to a recent poll, 79% of teachers were unhappy with what Gove had been doing in office. Seventy-five percent of those polled said the teaching profession had fallen since the last General Election.
His reforms changed monthly, many times undoing previous reforms, which all had to be adapted immediately making the education profession exhausting.
Christine Blower, the union’s general secretary, said Mr Gove had “clearly lost the support of the profession and parents for justifiable reasons”.
“His vision for education is simply wrong,” she said. “His pursuit of the unnecessary and often unwanted free schools and academies programme, the use of unqualified teachers, the failure to address the school place crisis and endless ill-thought out reforms to examinations and the curriculum has been his hallmark in office.
“Michael Gove’s search for headlines over speaking to the profession has clearly angered teachers. We remain in dispute over the direction of Government policy, which we believe is undermining the education service.”
In four years as education secretary, Gove did not appear once at any teacher union conferences, having his deputy, the school minister, go in his place. He openly referred to EU’s educational establishment – the unions and teacher colleges – as “the blob.” According to Richard Adams writing for The Guardian, Gove had spoken privately before the 2010 election about his plans to lessen the establishment’s influence in government.
Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said the Prime Minister has “belatedly realised that Michael Gove’s ideological drive is no substitute for measured, pragmatic reform of the education system”.
“Time after time he has chased newspaper headlines rather than engage with teachers,” she said. “The dismantling of the structures which support schools, the antagonism which he displayed to the teaching profession and the increasing evidence of chaos in the bodies he established has led Cameron to one conclusion – Gove is more of a liability than an asset.
“Successful education systems value the views of the teaching profession, which Gove insulted when he called them ‘the blob’.”
Gove was also in trouble with the Home Office when he repeatedly opposed a plan by Nick Clegg to offer free school meals for infants.
Many leaders of EU’s head teachers associations stand behind Gove and were shocked by his departure. They believe in his reforms and believe he has a great “commitment to improving the life chances of young people,” writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.
Only time will tell which of his reforms will last. His promotion of self-governing academies as replacements for schools governed by local authorities is one that Richard Adams of The Guardian believes will stay for a long time.
Britain’s chief whip is a position assigned to someone who ensures that party members attend meetings and vote the way the party leader would like them to.
Gove will also lose his cabinet seat.