Who abolished the Building For Schools programme and had to backtrack when the courts ruled that he had ‘abused his power’? Who gave every school in England and Wales a personally signed copy of the King James Bible? Who offered £500,000 of public money to his ex-advisor without giving anyone else the chance to apply? Who has pushed through with his ‘free schools’ plan to the detriment of other schools? Who allowed religious fundamentalists to teach creationism in said free schools? Who used the launch of the Olympics to slip out the news that Academies can hire unqualified teachers? Who regularly ignores the advice of his curriculum experts and harks back to a Gradgrind view of learning? Who launches an initiative a week to the despair of the education service?
Who paid his mother-in-law £7000 of taxpayers money for some expensive artifacts? Who flipped his home to personally benefit by £13,000 yet has an estimated personal wealth in excess of £1 million?
And who has managed the almost unique feat of uniting Guardian and Telegraph readers in outrage at his arrogance and incompetence?
Step forward Michael Andrew Gove, Secretary of State for Education.
His latest fiasco comes in the week that the PR premier called for more competition in schools. As the Daily Telegraph has launched a campaign to ‘Keep the Flame Alive’ his deeds have not gone down well....
“In a response under the Freedom of Information Act earlier this month, Mr Gove disclosed that his department had approved the disposal of 21 school playing fields “since May 2010”.
However, figures seen by The Daily Telegraph — which last week started a Keep the Flame Alive campaign to boost school sport following the success of the London Olympics — show that the true figure is significantly higher.
They show that the panel, which must by law give a recommendation on all sales before ministers make their final decision, received 35 applications to sell school playing fields between May 18, 2010 and July 22, 2012. Of these, 30 sales were approved by ministers, two were rejected, one was withdrawn and two are outstanding. The decisions were mostly taken by Lord Hill, the education minister, on behalf of Mr Gove. The documents show that Mr Gove overruled recommendations not to sell school playing fields five times between February 2011 and July this year, more than for the previous nine years.
Some 10,000 playing fields were sold off between 1979 and 1997 under the Tories. But under Labour, between 1997 and 2010, only 226 were sold. (my emphasis)
Stephen Twigg, the shadow education secretary who has written to Mr Gove’s most senior civil servant demanding to know why the Education Secretary had ignored the panel, said: “The fact that Michael Gove has ignored the advice of independent experts and ploughed ahead with selling off school playing fields shows he is shamefully out of touch.
“Michael Gove must now come clean and explain what appears to be a secret programme to sell off school playing fields. From the abolition of Labour’s school building programme, to curriculum changes, Michael Gove has form when it comes to ignoring expert advice.” Daily Telegraph 17/8/12
Readers’ comments on the article focus on the close relationship the tories have with developers.