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Michael Gove - Conservative Shadow Schools and Families Minister - live on Mumsnet this Thursday 29th, 1-2pm

(271 Posts)
JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 26-Apr-10 12:50:50

Michael Gove is the shadow secretary of state for children, schools and families and a key part of David Cameron's Shadow Cabinet team, responsible for Conservative policy on education and child protection. He is the Tory candidate in Surrey Heath.

One of the centrepiece's of the Conservatives election manifesto is allowing parents and other providers to set up schools with state funding, about which there's been lots of discussion on Mumsnet. Other pledges include 10,000 extra university places, allowing state schools to offer the International Baccalaureate and a moratorium on the closure of special schools.

Born in Edinburgh in 1967 and brought up in Aberdeen. Before He's married to Times' writer Sarah Vine and they have a son and a daughter, both of primary school age.

Please post advance questions for Michael here (and do please read our webchat guidelines if you're not already aware of them).

Many thanks.

ronshar Mon 26-Apr-10 13:21:49

Welcome Mr Gove.

Thank you for joining us, I wont ask you what your favourite biscuit isgrin

I would like to ask what the Conservative Government would do about the many children who have been let down by the current Government.
I refer to the children who are clever, bright, more able, intelligent or whatever the correct term is for a child who has lots of brains.
I know it has become very unfashionable to say that a child is bright but our children are being failed by a system which makes them learn at the slowest pace of the slowest child in the class.

Why is it ok for a child to be prevented, by a rubbish educational system, from reaching their true potential just to protect the self esteem of the less able children in the class????

Please tell me that you would bring back proper teaching for those children who want to learn and who are able to learn faster than their class mates.

I am frustrated that my child gets used as an extra teaching aid at the expense of her own learning.

Thank you very much and I look forward to your answers.

jonicomelately Mon 26-Apr-10 13:41:39

I attended a comprehensive school in the north west in the 1980s.

Why, when you ignored our educational needs then (underpaid teachers, poor state of buildings, lack of resources) should we even consider entrusting you with the job of educating our children?

CaptainNancy Mon 26-Apr-10 13:49:43

Please detail why you think more faith schools is a good thing? [Grr]
Seriously- this has cost you 2 votes in my household.

SethStarkaddersMum Mon 26-Apr-10 13:54:56

Why are the Conservatives currently opposed to academic selection when it is the simplest and fairest way to ensure that academically able children get the academic education that suits them, regardless of where their parents can afford to buy a house? And why, if academic selection is so terrible that us plebs who have to use state schools can't possibly be allowed it (except in a few areas where grammar schools already exist), is it ok for private schools to select by ability? Isn't that a bit hypocritical?

UnquietDad Mon 26-Apr-10 14:14:16

The current Ofsted system is farcical and makes teachers feel very negative. Your proposals to revise Ofsted refer to reporting on schools' setting procedures and reading schemes, but why not have a root and branch review of Ofsted's actual effectiveness? At the moment, if every member of a class is not "fully engaged" at every moment, this is somehow the fault of the teacher, according to Ofsted, and that teacher is duly given "inadequate". I would have hoped a Conservative government, with its emphasis on individual responsibility, would encourage pupils not just to take more responsibility for their own learning but also to acknowledge their own complicity in their lack of progress where this is appropriate.

We've learned that pupils don't progress and improve by being constantly given negative criticism. So why don't we understand the same is also true of teachers?...

(I speak not just as a parent, but as the spouse of a teacher and friend of many more!)

SethStarkaddersMum Mon 26-Apr-10 14:21:33

(agree with UQD's excellent post there. My mother trained as an OFSTED inspector after many years teaching and then never practised for pretty much that reason.)

SuSylvester Mon 26-Apr-10 14:22:47

Michael - when did you last go into a state secondary school and acutally watch a lesson?

cornsilk Mon 26-Apr-10 16:12:05

Michael - your party intends to 'abolish the legal requirement of 24 hours’ notice for detentions'-why is this?

You will also 'reform the exclusion process'
What exactly does this mean?
It is shameful that children with SEN are currently 8 times more likely to be excluded from school than children without SEN.(Lamb enquiry)
Will your reforms help these children or will you make it easier for Heads to exclude such pupils?

Jaquelinehyde Mon 26-Apr-10 16:36:10

Michael I am sure you are more than aware that the Conservative party has a reputation for looking after the better off sections of society. Some people would claim that the current election manifesto highlights this nicely, with proposed cuts to Sure Start, and a nice tax break to the top earners.

Bearing this in mind could you please explain to me how The Conservative party plan to tackle the link between poverty and low educational attainment? It would be nice to hear of your plans for all age groups, from early years through to higher education mature students. What will you put in place to ensure poverty stricken families can suceed educationally?

gramercy Mon 26-Apr-10 16:37:38

What will the Conservatives do to roll back the ludicrous amount of bureaucracy to which schools are subjected?

And do you have plans to reverse the 'dumbing down' of exams?

Kewcumber Mon 26-Apr-10 16:46:08

I understand that you have a special interest in adoption and would like to know if you are prepared to tackle some of the issues in the adoption area which (in my very humble opinion) result in childrne being in care longer than necessary. I'm thinking in particular of the virtual non-existance of trans-racial adoption in this country despite recent studies showing that transracially adopted children do better on average than non-white children left in care.

(Am very anti more faith schools too but see that has been covered)

Ewe Mon 26-Apr-10 16:50:16

How will your new 'free' schools work and be funded and why isn't this money being invested in improving current schools where the pupils and the infrastructure are already there?

SuSylvester Mon 26-Apr-10 16:52:39

michael - you should have seen the thread about government iniatives in teachign recently. it was very revealing.

read this and imagine this was your job

AngryWasp Mon 26-Apr-10 17:26:58

What are your plans for very challenging but bright children with special needs?

GoingPostal Mon 26-Apr-10 17:52:44

Could you explain exactly what your plans are for Sure Start? By which I mean a specific outline of how your plans will work in practice, not just the headline policies please.

AntoinetteOuradi Mon 26-Apr-10 18:15:31

What happened to the idea of introducing education vouchers which could be used in the same way as the nursery voucher (i.e. they can be put towards independent school fees when children are in Reception). Having just paid two lots of fees that I can't afford (because I wouldn't touch our local state schools with a bargepole), I would be interested to hear more about this...

QuestionAnswered Mon 26-Apr-10 18:16:06

Michael - You are quoted as saying “I’m an unashamed traditionalist when it comes to the curriculum. Most parents would rather see children sitting in rows, learning the kings and queens of England, the great works of literature, proper mental arithmetic, algebra by the age of 11, modern foreign languages. It’s not just about being able to do business in Europe, it’s about access to Goethe and Balzac and Dante.”

I am one parent that would not rather see children sat in rows learning the kings and queens of England and would like to know why you are ignoring reams of research which shows that children learn better through active, hands on learning and critical thinking than an old fashioned style of rote learning, so my question is 'Do you think a Minister for Schools should have some basic training in Educational research and some practical experience in schools before deciding what is best for a generation of children?

TheFallenMadonna Mon 26-Apr-10 18:37:38

What are your thoughts about vocational qualifications? I am a Science teacher and am very much in favour of them in principle, but I am very sceptical about how they are being offered. Because a BTEC First Diploma in Applied Science is "equivalent" to 4 A*-C GCSEs, it is being used as the qualification for any student who is unlikely to achieve a C grade in a GCSE, even when it is not the most appropriate course for them to follow. And schools are increasingly setting "learning pathways" for their students, limiting the options available according to target grades, and making a bit of a mockery of the idea of individualised learning.

I think vocational qualifications are being used in such a way as to make the %A*-C measure by which schools are judged very difficult to interpret. Do you agree? And if you do, what will you do in order to address this?

Bongobaby Mon 26-Apr-10 18:40:52

I don't understand why the government. Let
so many private schools close down without
any thought. Of course it was going to put
added pressure on the state schools. I'm fustrated
that this was allowed to happen but banks were
bailed out!! These schools should of been given
help to keep doors open. And parents given tax
breaks for the huge amount of fees we pay.
After all, we are not taking up a state place.
Labour hasn't left me with much choice but
to go private when you look at the terrible
state the education system is in.

longfingernails Mon 26-Apr-10 18:49:16


Well done on your schools policy - it is the single best reason I can think of for being a Conservative voter.

I also like the pupil premium, and the way it will encourage social mobility.

But I have some questions about the way the pupil premium will work.

How would you go about fairly pricing a quasimarket to genuinely deliver equality of opportunity?

And can you see the Tories extending quasimarkets into other areas of public policy?

Tambajam Mon 26-Apr-10 19:51:42

As a former teacher, my life was made very difficult by a violent and disruptive pupil. He sexual assaulted a classroom assistant, attacked pupils and was finally permanently excluded after trying to attack me. But if even I feel he and his family deserved the right of appeal for his permanent exclusion, why don't you?

Surely, it's what happens in a system that takes exclusion seriously and values the rights of parents and children.

CaptainNancy Mon 26-Apr-10 19:59:29

jonicomelately - Michael Gove was 13 in 1980... I doubt very much he was involved in conservative educational policy at the time hmm

monkeysavingexpertdotcom Mon 26-Apr-10 20:48:54

So - parents/community groups setting up their own schools - this is in addition to existing provision? With additional state funding and not at the expense of existing provision? And will the motives for setting up one's own school be looked into? And isn't it all really just a gimmick because really hardly anyone is going to do it but it looks like you're giving choice when, in fact, only certain types of people with certain levels of education would consider such an option?
That is just one question, honestly, but I heard you discussing it on Today this morning and felt there were questions you didn't answer fully.

BoffinMum Mon 26-Apr-10 20:50:20

Michael - a lot of your policies are to do with school choice, which is great if you live in an urban area, but not so good if you live in a rural area where there's only one school and not enough local children to justify setting up a viable Free School as an alternative. How are you going to help rural parents enjoy the same rights as parents in urban areas? Or will rural families have to like it or lump it, like they do at the moment?

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