Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Gove's welcome willingness to perform U-turns

Michael Gove was complaining during his many valiant - but unsuccessful - attempts to defend Lord Ashcroft on his taxes last night that the Tories were somehow being held to a higher standard than Labour over non-Doms. Michael White explains why this is not so with Ashcroft. But there is another area where the Tories are being allowed to get away with murder: their ability to perform U-turns unnoticed (unless they break their sacred marriage vows with the Daily Mail).

The latest came yesterday, barely noted in the Independent and ignored elsewhere. Alongside an announcement on Ofsted that I have detailed earlier, Gove declared that the story that dominated the news a few months ago - that he would have secondary teachers marking primary pupils' test results at the start of Year 7 - was just an idea he was floating. All those headlines may have come in handy highlighting the party's flexibility to grumpy teachers and giving the impression of new policy in a generally policy-lite party. But now it had served its purpose, it could go. According to the excellent Richard Garner, the last remaining truly experienced education correspondent in the national press:
he appeared to back-track from a plan to transfer tests for 11-year-olds to the first term of secondary schooling – a move designed to reduce teaching to the test in the last year of primary schooling....He said he had only “floated” the idea and could see arguments both for and against it. “We do need to maintain objective testing to discover the level at which children are working,” he added. “There is no way that we will get rid of end of primary testing..."
This is a welcome U-turn, if that is what it is. And I reported in Public Finance last summer that Gove was already having his doubts about letting secondary teachers mark primary tests. But surely it deserves the same celebratory scrutiny that normally accompanies major political U-turns - at least when they come from Labour ministers?

1 comment:

Jonn Elledge said...

You're telling me.