Gove & education: one last thing

October 11, 2009 at 3:33 pm | Posted in Education | 1 Comment

I’ll quit this issue soon, but there was one other part of Gove’s speech last week which I found pretty irritating:

The body responsible for writing the curriculum – the QDCA – spends more than one hundred million pounds every year – and after hiring an army of consultants, squadrons of advisers and regiments of bureaucrats they still wrote a syllabus for the Second World War without any place for Winston Churchill.

I guess it’s always possible that he’s right. Maybe there’s some secret document doing the rounds, written by scores of ‘unaccountable quangocrats’ which does indeed remove Winston Churchill from the history curriculum. But it would have to be a secret document, because when you hop over to the QCDA’s website, you’ll actually find quite a few references to Britain’s Greatest Ever Tory. He’s mentioned here, here and here, in these guidance notes for teachers and, rather inconveniently for Mr Gove, in this rather unwieldy PDF (p22):

A world study after 1900: A study of some of the significant individuals, events and developments from across the twentieth century, including the two World Wars, the Holocaust, the Cold War, and their impact on Britain, Europe and the wider world.

[…]

Examples for 13: a world study after 1900 Individuals: Winston Churchill; Adolf Hitler; Joseph Stalin; Benito Mussolini; Franklin Roosevelt; Mahatma Gandhi; Mao Zedong; Martin Luther King.

So what obscure document have I dredged up for this snidey little ‘gotcha!’ post? A little thing called the National Curriculum.

Now, I don’t really expect Michael Gove to have read the damn thing – I haven’t even done that myself yet, and I’m expecting to teach. But I do think it’d be a nice if he stopped telling other people who haven’t read it that hundreds of millions of pounds are being squandered to remove Churchill from classrooms.

This isn’t to say there’s uniform agreement on Sir Winston’s prominance in history classrooms, and I happen to think that people should be able to disagree in good faith without being accused of being either elitist or practicing ‘dumbing down’. Nor should it detract from the points in my earlier post that developing skills should take greater prominance over factual recall.

But I would hope that the least we could expect from a wannabe Secretary of State was having a decent fact checker on his staff. Perhaps we should set it as homework.

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1 Comment »

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  1. When did a Tory ever let truth get in the way of a populist rant?


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