Teachers are coming to expect insults from Michael Gove, their Education Secretary. He visited Nottingham last Friday and, in the wake of the OFSTED blitz of Nottingham schools in December, launched a tirade in the local press and media. According to what he was reported as saying in the Nottingham Post, (March 15 & 16), he ‘demanded’ that under-performing schools improve and suggested they be “taken by the scruff of the neck”. He threatened school leaders with the sack and academisation (this message was encoded as ‘a change of leadership in some schools could be needed’, ignoring the fact that, even if the OFSTED judgements are sound, most of the schools judged to require ‘Special Measures’ are currently academies!).
He warned the schools not to use deprivation as an excuse: “Deprivation cannot be used as an excuse for poor performance. There are children who come from a tough background who go on to succeed.” Many people would suggest that this is because of their school and often such children cite an inspirational teacher, who believed in them, but Gove is having none of that.
He went on to accuse teachers of lacking ambition. What he is reported as having said, is : “What is needed is to raise the level of ambition…not this toxic attitude that children in deprived areas will not do well.”
We wonder how Michael Gove knows what is in the hearts and minds of teachers in schools in ‘deprived areas’ when they go to work each day. We also wonder how they will feel, going into school on Monday, knowing their ‘boss’ thinks their attitude is poisoning their children’s life chances.
If you are such a teacher, get in touch with HOOS via our ‘Contribute’ button and tell us, anonymously.