Edfest: Gove

Not too many notes for this one: too busy listening!

Gove succinctly summarises the current debate in education, between knowledge and skills, saying that he feels the more traditional agenda has had a resurgence of late, that the child-centred approach has let children down and stunted social mobility, and that he sees their point. He says siding with either camp would create conflict, though Aaronovitch suggests he’d have been less unpopular by going with the child-centred approach.

Asked if the reason why the best schools are in deprived areas these days, echoing Wilshaw this morning, and whether this is because the conservatives traditionally don’t care about poor children and so the Labour areas are doing well, he says no – those areas have the most sponsored academies and have benefited from Teach First and independent-state collaboration, all initiatives supported by the Tories.

He says many independent schools can learn from state schools, but have things like excellent alumni connections that they can use to make a difference in state schools.

He is asked why we don’t abolish GCSEs since students have to stay on until they’re 18. He points out that schools can choose not to sit AS now as an experiment, but where should there be a break point where students can choose to specialise?

He admits there were many issues with the history curriculum suggested and says that there will be changes. Aaronovitch won’t let it go and forces the point that too much content will make it difficult to teach the necessary skills in history, but is told not to worry. He is picking up on his comments from this article – http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/columnists/davidaaronovitch/article3701329.ece

Melody, CEO of InspirEngage (and also from the Apprentice) introduces questions from students. He talks about encouraging active citizenship. He says teachers should play a bigger role at every level to drive school improvement. A y13 asks him if he would reconsider his position on January resists, because everyone deserves a second chance. He says that by doing this we spend less time on exam preparation and more on deep learning, that there is inadequate prep for university because of this.

First question from the audience is about political bias in the history draft. He denies any. Feel like he has a different understanding of political bias to me. The questions quickly become statements about perceived holes in policies.

Ryan asked “is it true you’re taking away extra time in exams for dyslexic children?” Gove: “No.” Ryan: “OK!” It’s gets the biggest laugh of the session. Good question, and brief, too. Some of the agenda pushers here today should take note.

Primary school governor asks why Gove can’t praise teachers more. “You can never praise teachers enough.”

He recognises that there are limits to what can be done for students from the most difficult backgrounds, but schools can achieve amazing things for them with great teaching and support.

What has he most learnt so far? What would he do differently? It’s getting a bit trite now: “listen to Dr Seldon” – who asked the question. He wishes he had explained his agenda more clearly and been more open to constructive criticism. He’s pleased that academies, free schools and idealistic young teachers have led to better teaching.

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