Gove blamed for IB decline by fellow minister

Lord Willetts, who was minister for universities and science between 2010 and 2014, suggested that Mr Gove disliked the IB because he thought it represented “rootless cosmopolitan education not grounded in the history of this country”. Lord Willetts also said England’s system of narrowing the curriculum at age 16 was “ludicrous”, and that A levels should be broadened out to allow most students to sit exams in five or six subjects. Tes reports.

The number of British schools providing the IB has plummeted over the last decade, although there has been an increase in pupil entries. In 2008, UK pupil entries were around the 3,000 mark, but they have since climbed to 4,832 this year.

Speaking at an event hosted by the IB Schools and Colleges Association, Lord Willetts – a supporter of the qualification – said “I know – I wasn’t present in the discussion but I have it on good authority – that Michael Gove as education secretary disapproved of the IB.

“‘International’, ‘baccalaureate’ – rootless cosmopolitan education not grounded in the history of this country and its canonical body of knowledge.

“There is a kind of High Tory critique…do we want skills to be separated from people’s cultural and historical identity?”

Lord Willetts said that the IB had also been hurt by opposition from the Treasury.

“If you want to save money you narrow – the whole English model is you save money by getting people through their education quickly, and specialising helps to get them in and out the door quickly.”

Lastly, he said the IB had failed to prosper because of the “unusual power” wielded by universities in the English educational system.

Lord Willetts said that forcing students to narrow to just a handful of subjects at A level was “ludicrous” and “absurd”.

“Though I love the IB,” Lord Willetts said, “it is unlikely to be the way a nationwide system goes” because “there’s no appetite for some big change at the moment”.

Read the full article Gove blamed for IB decline by fellow minister

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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