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5 reasons why everyone hates Michael Gove

5th February 2014

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Michael Gove seems to like annoying people. His cocksure manner and breathtaking self-confidence means that he regularly comes into conflict with teachers, students, Lib Dems, his own deputy... pretty much the entire public.Paul Clarke [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

His latest bright idea is for schools to be open ten hours a day, as school children need to “build character and instil grit.” This despite leading educational experts insisting students need short days and breaks to process the information they get and teachers already being overworked, clocking up £7bn of unpaid labour each year.

So here are five reasons to get even more worked up about the Govenator.

Michael Gove thinks that anyone questioning student debt is a ‘fool’

In a Times’ article from 2003 that he probably wishes was forgotten, Gove says that the idea running up debts of £21,000 (how long ago do those heady days seem?) to get a university education shouldn’t be a deterrent to students:

“Some people will, apparently, be put off applying to our elite institutions by the prospect of taking on a debt of this size. Which as far as I’m concerned is all to the good.

“Over a lifetime, the direct financial benefit in higher earnings is around £400,000. Those who attend our best universities can expect to earn even more. Borrowing £21,000 at preferential rates, to secure twenty times that sum, is an offer you’d have to be a fool to turn down.

“And if you’re such a fool that you don’t want to accept that deal, then you’re too big a fool to benefit from the university education I’m currently subsidising for you.”


Michael Gove’s £370,000 vanity Bibles – with his name on the spine

Michael Gove is a big fan of cutting spending. However, when his plans to use public funds to send a King James Bible to every state school in the UK were blocked, he was happy to accept £370,000 in Tory donations to get the Bibles out there – complete with “Presented by the Secretary of State for Education” emblazoned on the spine.

Striking teachers are “the enemies of promise”, “Marxist ideologues” and he “deplores” the teaching unions

Mr Gove isn’t one to shy away from a scrap, which is just as well as he has frequently clashed with teachers throughout his time as Education Secretary. Despite being charged with, well, actually working with teachers and the teaching union to make things better, he has regularly got into slanging matches with them, leading to a vote of no confidence in him from the National Association of Head Teachers last year.

(As an aside, maybe it was head teachers who invented the Michael Gove pin cushion? If so, we wouldn't blame them.)

Badly behaved kids should be forced into community service

Do you remember misbehaving at school? What punishment did you get? Detention. Extra work. Missing breaks.

Gove wants to go much further. In what sounds like an attempt to prepare kids for a bleak future, Gove wants unruly pupils to do “community service”, such as picking up litter, weeding school grounds or cleaning up graffiti.

So rather than learning, getting help for the behaviour or extra tuition, school kids will be seen as criminals and acting as glorified caretakers (what will happen to the actual caretakers if kids are going to do all the jobs?) That’s when they’re not studying for 10 hours a day in preparation for the long days they’ll have when they finally get a job.

He thinks qualifications are unnecessary

Despite repeatedly telling students that exams are too easy and that they need to get harder, Michael Gove doesn’t seem to think that teachers need qualifications. He is more than happy for academies, private schools and his flagship free schools to hire professionals without qualified teaching status to teach.

Net result: Free schools perform worse than other schools in Ofsted inspections. Well done Michael.

Still – there is one reason to like Michael Gove. Turns out he’s not very good at walking.

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