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Michael Gove: Going Back In Time

I think by this point most teachers opinions on Michael Gove is clear enough – They can’t stand him. This is evident in what most teachers say about him and the fact that the Unions are now using anti-Gove advertising in order to attract teachers to join their unions (possibly not the best thing to do in my honest opinion). In two and a bit years, even after a history of poor secretaries of state for education, Gove has seemingly made himself public enemy number 1 amongst the profession that he oversees (although this seems to be a coalition trait e.g Lansley and Doctors, May and Police Officers, Clegg and Lib Dem Supporters).

There was an out pouring of anger towards Michael Gove when this week it was leaked and, after being called by an urgent question from Labour, confirmed an education policy that seemingly would scrap GCSEs and return us to a similar idea to O-Levels and CSEs. To be truly honest, I’m not surprised. Since becoming Education Secretary, Gove has seemingly been on a mission to return the education system to what it was like when he was at school. This was clearly evident with the English Baccalaureate, which seemed to push forward some subjects that are simply not relevant today.

My main issues with this new policy is firstly that it forces a judgment on pupils at an early age and some from disadvantaged background may face a glass ceiling in terms of achievement. More schools from disadvantaged backgrounds will be more willing to go for the CSEs as a way of boosting results because from what I understand, schools will still be judged on results in terms of league tables. This will cause problems for pupils who would be bright enough to achieve beyond their means and alienates them. This would in turn lead to a stigma on some pupils and a divisive culture. We’re clearly all in this together.

Secondly, there must be a reason why O-Levels were got rid of in the first place. I don’t pretend to know the exact reason for this ( I believe I was 3 at the time) but I have read that it was because CSEs were seen as not being worth the paper that they were written on. So why the hell are we reintroducing something that was seen, by a Conservative government, to have been wrong and problematic Mr. Gove may want to do some history (even British, which he seems hellbent on enforcing). We study the past so that we are not doomed to repeat it.

My main anger of this was the timing. The students are sitting their exams and I find it insulting that after the year or even two years of hard work that students, teachers and parents have put in, this has deemed worthless because the qualifications are too easy. As an A-Level teacher and marrying a secondary school teacher, we have both worked hard ensuring that our pupils are ready for these exams, as most teachers do as well. Our students match this. A lot of my students independently answer exam questions for myself to mark putting this hard work and effort to make sure that they are ready for these exams. This announcement would surely demoralise them and they won’t go into exams with the right frame of mind. We are judged on the results as are the pupils because of the pressures that previous governments have placed upon us and to have our efforts deemed not good enough us is demoralising.

It also suggests that my GCSEs, as well as those of others, were not worth it. I worked damn hard for my GCSEs, for my A-Levels and for my university degree. To have the opinion that they were so easy to get because of the whim of an education secretary is insulting. How the ‘Quad’ did not know about this I cannot fathom. Cameron must have known about this, nothing leaves Government without him knowing. How they couldn’t control this I don’t know. Opinion and meaningful discussion clealry doesn’t matter- only in May every 5 years.

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