24 Nov 2010

Gove spells out education reforms

Schools in England are to be given more power and independence but will face tougher academic targets. Gary Gibbon quizzes Education Secretary Michael Gove on the plans.

Michael Gove has launched a major overhaul of the English school system which he said would raise the status of teachers, restore discipline in the classroom and push up standards. He told MPs that it provided “the opportunity to become the world’s leading education nation”.

In the plans, former troops will be encouraged to retrain as teachers and there will be an expansion in the TeachFirst programme to attract top graduates into the classroom, as well as a new TeachNext scheme for people switching careers.

Mr Gove’s package also includes new achievement targets which could lead to as many as 400 more schools being tagged as “underperforming”.

Channel 4 News Political Editor Gary Gibbon said: “In a noisy Westminster, the Education Secretary has been making some noise of his own.

“Michael Gove believes the teaching stock of the nation simply isn’t good enough. And to encourage some faster minds in, he wants a faster track into the profession.”

Secondary schools will be subject to intense scrutiny if less than 35 per cent of their pupils get five C grades at GCSE, including English and maths, and fewer students are making two levels of progress between the ages of 11 and 16 (Key Stages 3 and 4) than the national average.

Where schools are found to fall below standard, “outstanding headteachers” will be brought in to help “raise the bar on achievement”.

The training process for new teachers will be overhauled, with a new generation of “teaching schools” will be established, along the lines of teaching hospitals, as showcases of the best classroom practice.

Education Secretary Michael Gove told Channel 4 News: “One of the things about outstanding schools is you learn everything you need – you learn about classroom management, bad behaviour and also how to inspire.”

When asked whether teachers would be able to learn about how to control misbehaving classes in such exemplary classrooms, he responded: “Children are the same across the world and across England.”

Education: Gove announces shake-up. (Getty)

And there will be subsidies for graduates going into teaching in key subjects like science and maths.

Qualification reforms will include “stripping out” modules from GCSE courses to restore the focus on exams. Markers will be told to recognise good spelling, punctuation and grammar in GCSE papers.

Performance tables will judge schools not only on numbers pupils achieving five good GCSEs in English and maths, but also science, foreign languages and a humanities subject.


The shake-up is likely to promote a take-up of languages, as well as other traditional subjects such as history and geography, effectively rewarding schools where pupils opt for core subjects.

To improve discipline, Mr Gove plans to give teachers stronger powers to search students and impose detentions and exclusions, as well as clearer rules on the use of force.

Teachers will be protected from false allegations by pupils and there will be support for schools which introduce traditional uniforms, prefects and house systems.

Labour warned that he risked creating a “two-tier education system” where the requirements of academic pupils are put ahead of those wanting to pursue more vocational courses.