Opinion: Out with the Old and in with the New

200px-Question_exclamation.svgIn the latest cabinet reshuffle by PM David Cameron we saw the replacement of Michael Gove with Nicky Morgan in the post of Education Secretary. Gove will become chief whip and opinions are divided as to whether this is a demotion or not. The papers state that this it is an  attempt to appease the teachers, whose feathers Gove ruffled extensively. Gove’s reforms affected pretty much all areas of education, schools and universities alike.

In reference to the old, Gove embarked on many reforms during his time, most of them controversial, and many blame him directly for the latest rounds of teachers’ strikes we have seen. During his time as Minister of Education we saw the establishment of Free Schools across the country, funded directly by the DfE and not subject to Local Authorities, with Studio Schools and Technical Colleges being part of the system. Academies of differing natures have sprung up, often transforming ailing schools.

Teachers saw their pay structures and traditional career path with guaranteed year on year promotion through MPS to UPS changed. There are more performance indicators to be used to assess teachers. Last week saw a walkout from NUT members over pay, workload and pensions.
GCSEs and A Levels were reformed and relaunched. The new GCSEs will be phased in over the next couple of years, with English and Maths to spearhead the changes. After years of modularising the curriculum and focussing on transferable skills, we go back to end of year exams and, certainly for History, more content.

Tuition fees have been increased. 2010 saw a rise from £3,200 to £6,000 to £9,000 – which Gove insisted would not put off poorer students.

In reference to the new: Those expecting a U-Turn under Nicky Morgan, the 41 year old lawyer, may be disappointed. She has been appointed to be more appeasing and tactful than Gove, yet is said to continue with his reforms whilst trying to rebuild bridges with teachers and parents alike. She has supported the changes made to date.

How Mrs Morgan will cope with the mounting pressures on our Primary schools with their  increasing numbers, and  how she can reform child protection laws and end the bitter dispute between the government and the unions remains to be seen – she certainly has her work cut out. We should wish her good luck!

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