One year on and how has Michael Gove and the coalition performed on education?
Here’s my brief school report:
Name: Michael Gove
Michael can be a charismatic, if not a very popular,
member of his class. Overall he has not fulfilled his potential this year, but
there are glimmers of hope that he could make substantial improvements were he
to listen more to his teachers.
Michael is an enthusiastic reader and he has set himself
a target of reading 50 books in a year. This is ambitious and I do hope that
his other work will not suffer as he tries to meet this target. My advice to
Michael is that is not just the quantity of books that he reads that matters,
but the quality of the books and his reflection on their meaning that counts.
Michael appears to be very enthusiastic about mathematics
and he does appreciate that maths is important, not just as a subject in its
own right, but elsewhere, such as in science, business studies and technology.
I do have one concern. He seems to be obsessed by tables. Learning his tables
can be very useful, but Michael should try to widen his interests to algebra,
geometry and basic arithmetic. There have been occasions where his basic
numbers don’t add up. My advice to Michael is to ensure that he checks his
calculations carefully before committing them to paper.
Michael seems to think that there are just three separate
sciences – biology, chemistry and physics – and that learning in science is only
about doing experiments and gaining facts. He needs to understand that while there
are three traditional subjects, modern sciences are much more inter-related. In
addition there are other sciences, like geology and astronomy which are
exciting and important. He needs to understand that the process of science and
how the different subjects link together is very important if he is to become
scientifically literate. His obsession with chemistry and physics means that he
is apt to ignore the other sciences. Michael must gain a better understanding
of how science works. It’s important that he realises that simply learning the
facts of science will not make him a scientist.
Michael had a very shaky start to the year and refused to
take part fully in his PE lessons. I’m pleased that he has come around, but he
is still a reluctant student. Michael appears to enjoy watching competitive
sport and likes to assist the PE staff in compiling league tables for the
sports day – he appears to be a reluctant competitor. I would say to Michael
that taking part is just as important as winning and that not all PE lessons
must be competitive to be considered useful.
This is one area where Michael must improve considerably.
Although we prefer to report on positive achievement rather than failure,
Michael’s work on this year’s ‘building project’ as part of his GCSE course
work was poor to say the least. His initial work was full of errors and had to
be corrected a few times. Rather than consult with his teachers about his
project he decided to simply go ahead and produce what can only be described as
sub-standard work. This bull-at-gate attitude ended in a trip to the Head’s
office where he was reprimanded and told to go back to his class and consult
with his teachers. It may be too late now to change his project as the school
year comes to an end. I hope that Michael has learned his lesson and will, in
future, listen more closely to his teachers.
Michael has not excelled himself in this area, but
neither is his contribution to the subject very poor. He is quiet in class and
works steadily, but appears not to care about the humanities. I am encouraged
that he enjoys British History and wants to learn more than just the names of
the six wives of Henry the eighth and how Hitler came to power and the
second-world-war. Again, he must understand that history is not just about learning
dates. In geography he has taken an interest in the rivers of Britain, but
simply learning their names and the locations of major cities will not be
enough to satisfy a subject that is global in nature.
Michael’s main problem is that he tends to rush into
things without thinking through the consequences of his actions. This leads to
him making too many mistakes. Michael has volunteered to be on the school
uniform and anti-bullying and discipline committees. While his teachers welcome
his input on these important issues, he must be realistic and understand that
making major changes in schools is costly and takes time. His teachers only
have so many hours in the day that they can devote to his suggested changes. He
must also remember that his best work will come when he listens carefully to
his teachers and not just to the people who shout the loudest.