Education Secretary Michael Gove’s proposals for painful changes to our educational system appear to be meeting with a great thumbs down from parents, especially the overwhelming majority whose children go to state schools.
In a wide-ranging and fascinating survey undertaken by You-Gov which appears in February’s edition of Prospect magazine, it becomes very clear that parents do not want to see the end of the national curriculum or for GCSE and A levels based solely on exams. Neither do they want private companies to take over failing schools.
What parents do want is very revealing. To my utter joy traditional history teaching comes high on the list, especially that of our own country. Top of the demands is banning mobile phones in classrooms closely followed by the removal of teachers who underperform. Parents would also like to see a return to school uniform and the banning of unhealthy and junk food in schools.
It’s very clear from this comprehensive look at parents’ attitudes to education that most do not want root and branch change. They are looking for improvements in certain aspects of school life. To put it simply, parents want their children to behave better at school and for schools to take measures to bring this about.
In fact, most parents think state schools provide good quality education. In the survey 83 per cent were satisfied with their primary school, a figure which dropped to 77 per cent for secondary schools. This strong showing certainly gives the lie to Michael Gove’s claim that our education system is broken.
As for Mr Gove himself, 36 per cent though he was doing badly, 23 per cent well, while 41 per cent didn’t know. I’d put that somewhere on the border between pass and fail. Maybe a tough viva voce examination with unseen questions from parents of state school children would give him the extra marks he obviously so badly needs.