Helen Bach: Poor marks for Michael Gove

Education Secretary Michael Gove needs to know when to stop meddling, says Helen
Education Secretary Michael Gove needs to know when to stop meddling, says Helen

Education Secretary Michael Gove likes to kick the metaphorical hornets’ nest, doesn’t he?!

I think seldom a week goes by that there’s not another proposal for changes for something to do with education.

As far as I can remember, recent suggestions have included scrapping GCSEs (or was it A-levels?) in favour of a Baccalaureate.

Now GCSEs are to be scrapped in favour of old-style O-level exams, which I think involves less coursework, an exam at the end, but the grades will be from one to eight, like in piano exams.

Very confusing for everybody – particularly for future employers looking at CVs who will no doubt continue to ask “is that like an O-level grade C?”

But one of the latest, and perhaps most controversial, ideas from Mr Gove and his department involves giving state schools the power to decide their own term structure – which means the sacred six-week summer holiday could be consigned to the history books.

To be fair, I can see the argument from all angles.

For families where both parents work, organising six weeks of childcare is very expensive.

Six weeks is also a long time to be away from the structure of school – in fact I would say it probably takes the first half-term of the new academic year for the children to get back into the routine again.

However, I really can’t see giving each individual school the right to set their own holidays is going to be an overall benefit.

For example, what would happen if each school in Northamptonshire chose different summer holidays – if you’ve got children at primary and secondary schools, how would you ever get the same weeks off?

How would teachers with children not at the school at which they teach manage?

I can’t see the ‘carrot’ of cheaper holidays materializing either – the holiday companies will simply quote the ‘supply and demand’ reasoning behind the huge price hikes during peak season, and holidays will potentially be more expensive all the time.

Sorry Mr Gove, but I think this is going to be an administrative and logistical nightmare for all concerned.

Perhaps he, and the schools to be given the new powers, should remember the old adage that just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should...

Read more from Helen here.