Toby Young on Michael Gove’s achievements as education secretary

Writing in the Telegraph, Toby Young  asks if the blob has ended up eating Michael Gove and outlines what he sees as Michael Gove’s key achievements in his four years as education secretary…

…Michael Gove was, without question, the most radical education secretary of the past 50 years. The problem he’s always faced, from a political point of view, is that it will take decades before any of his reforms begin to bear fruit…

That means he hasn’t been able to respond to his critics by pointing to the positive impact his policies have had, unlike George Osborne. That’s a particular problem in education because there are so many groups with a vested interest in preserving the status quo. In effect, Gove has gone into battle with the most powerful forces in the educational establishment with nothing to defend himself with apart from his ready wit and his skills as a debater…

…let’s remind ourselves of what he’s achieved in just four years as Education Secretary:

• He’s cut the number of children being taught in failing schools by 250,000

• He’s enabled more than half of England’s state secondary schools to become academies, freeing them from the dead hand of local authority control

• He’s opened 174 free schools (so far), with 75 per cent of the first wave being ranked “good” or “outstanding” by Ofsted, higher than the national average

• He’s rewritten the national curriculum, with more rigorous, intellectually challenging programmes of study being introduced in English, Maths, Science, Languages, Computing, Geography and History

• He’s raised standards in GCSEs and A-levels, stripping out meaningless BTEC “equivalents” in subjects like Travel and Tourism, removing coursework and ensuring all pupils are assessed on their performance in end-of-course exams

• He’s made it easier for head teachers to enforce discipline, giving them the power to permanently exclude children without the risk that they’ll be reinstated by local authorities

• He’s weakened the grip of Left-wing academics on the teacher training process, making it possible for outstanding schools to train teachers themselves

• He’s made the league tables more transparent, forcing schools and local authorities to make much more information public so parents can make better informed decisions of where to send their children

• He’s introduced new accountability measures that will make it harder for underperforming schools to “game” the league tables

That’s a formidable list of achievements. Provided his successors don’t row back on any of these reforms, Michael Gove will be looked back on by future generations, not as a villain, but as a hero who created one of the best public education systems in the world…

More at: Cabinet reshuffle: Has Michael Gove been eaten by the Blob?

Your reaction to Toby Young’s list of Michael Gove’s achievements? Anything you would add (well, you never know) or take issue with? Please share in the comments or via Twitter…

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Categories: Policy.


  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove That was a party political broadcast delivered by toadmeister on behalf of the Conservative Party.

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Perhaps toadmeister’s support of Gove and everything he does was partly to blame for Gove demotion, sorry, reassignment?

  3. Janet2

    Toby’s roll call of Gove’s achievements is just partisan promotion.  This was obvious as soon as Young wrote about the “dead hand of local authority control”.  That cliche isn’t just lazy it’s wrong.  LAs haven’t “controlled” schools for over quarter-of-a-century since Local Management of Schools.

  4. TW


    …and replaced them with ignorant Right-wing nutters handed millions of public money to play with their fantasies.

    With friends like Toby Haw-Haw was there any real point in him having enemies?

  5. EddieTriggs

    SchoolsImprove And to improve FE professionalism he failed to back the IFL_Members we will always remember him, for all the wrong reasons!

  6. VictoriaJaquiss

    SchoolsImprove Had to read this before having breakfast in case I was sick. Gove presidency characterised by sloppy lies. Long may he rot!

  7. CobleyWriter

    SchoolsImprove Oh, Toby, Toby, Toby. It’d be laughable if it wasn’t so… No, correction, laughable it is.

  8. Solar_Active

    SchoolsImprove I have not heard of any ‘achievements’ of M Gove rather the opposite. We will experience the results for many years.

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