I have posted a comment to Robert Peal’s online article for Standpoint, in which he claims that Michael Gove, “The Great Reformer” has transformed England’s educational landscape for the better. Now, I’m not expecting it to be published on their website, so I thought I would put it on my blog.

I found the article by Robert Peal (Teach First Ambassador) in Standpoint, almost comical in its own assertion that this was a valid critique of Gove’s tenure.

“If you want a picture of English schools after thirteen years of Labour reforms…” apparently you should read just two books! Katharine Birbalsingh, Headmistress Designate at Michaela Community School, who has filled her ranks with Teach First Ambassadors, is the author of one. While the second book is written by a supply teacher called Charlie Carroll, who penned his opinions and experiences of inner city schools up and down the country, during a year’s supply work.

Is Robert Peal (‘education research fellow’ at the right-wing think-tank Civitas) really suggesting that we should evaluate “New Labour’s failure” based on the personal inadequacies of one supply teacher? This seems to be a recurring theme in Peal’s one-dimensional arsenal as he asked another to forward his book Progressively Worse (published by Civitas). As one reviewer on Amazon wrote: “The most impressive accomplishment of Robert Peal’s book is its scope and how it enables the reader to interpret so much of what has happened in education, and what is still happening”, not bad for someone who has only taught for two years.

The article, which the further you read sounds more like an obituary, suggests that Michael Gove’s: “speeches were informed by research at the forefront of the education debate”. It is not clear who’s educational debate this is, or in fact, what the debate about education actually is. The lazy thinkers’ go to names of Hattie, Hirsch and Willingham would indicate that this is a nod to the band of self-proclaimed educational research ‘experts’ who promote the ‘truths and rules’ of teaching, supported by a very narrow selection of ‘evidence’. I have written about this previously here.

“He was a minister utterly on top of his brief” is supported by the claim that The Guardian’s Educational Editor Richard Adams once spotted the Secretary of State at 8am sitting at the back of a seminar making notes. Hardly rigorous evidence based research.

The sycophantic blathering goes on to say that: “Gove’s speeches showed a keen awareness of this work at the coalface”, Peal then lists five ‘educators’; two of which, as far as I know, are not even currently teaching.

All in all, a weak piece of persuasive writing filled with second-hand anecdotes and riddled with nepotism. Still, it managed to be published in Standpoint, and as our popular and media hungry (he is already learning from his future boss, Toby Young) writer points out, one member of the magazine’s advisory board is a certain Mr. Michael Gove.

It has recently dawned on me that I will never be employed by a think-tank like Civitas or Policy Exchange and that I’ll never be invited to schmooze with the ‘big guns’ in London. So much so, I have to (reluctantly) do all the publicity and promoting of my book myself.

At a time when the focus on education seems to be on style rather than on the purpose of why we teach young people and at a time, when new teachers need to develop their own teaching virtuosity and become educationally wise. I was distressed to read this tweet.

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Now, I don’t know the guy, but if new teachers are only reading these books, we truly are fucked.

Buy this book, Never Mind the Inspectors, Here’s Punk Learning.

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Here me talk about the need for Punk Learning here.

The only book that matters.

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