By Paul Goodman
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Michael Gove is on outrageous form in a Daily Mail interview this morning. He makes the iniquitious suggestion that people should be sacked if they're no good at their jobs.
"Mr Gove said: ‘You wouldn’t tolerate an underperforming surgeon in an operating theatre, or a underperforming midwife at your child’s birth.
"Why is it that we tolerate underperforming teachers in the classroom? Teachers themselves know if there’s a colleague who can’t keep control or keep the interest of their class, it affects the whole school.
Children themselves know they are being cheated. Ultimately we owe it to our children. They are in school for 190 days a year. Every moment they spend learning is precious. If a year goes by and they are not being stretched and excited, that blights their life.
‘We have got to think of what’s in the children’s interests first."
I don't agree with those who hold that being a teacher is an easy life. But the Education Secretary is flagging up a problem which disfigures the public sector. The traditional settlement was that public sector workers were compensated for being less well paid than private sector ones by having better job security and gaining higher pensions.
It was framed for a world which no longer exists: the collapse of final salary schemes, job insecurity, and a consequent turning of the tables on pay have seen to that. But the real victims of this bargain are children, as the Gover notes (just as in the NHS these are patients). The Education Secretary describes the "number of dodges" whereby disciplinary measures are evaded.
As 2012 opens, the winner of our readers' Conservative of the Year award for 2011 is the master of all he surveys. His main school reforms seem to be winning cross-party consensus. I have noted before that Gove is also becoming Paul Dacre's pin up boy, a claim for which today's interview provides further evidence.
According to the paper, the Education Secretary "is introducing a requirement for teachers to be assessed every year against simpler, sharper standards". Were I a cynic, perish the thought, I'd like to know a bit more about the degree to which the Gover's announcements are always followed through, but he is undoubtedly the great Cabinet success to date.
P.S: Gove also stoutly defends his wife, Times columnist Sarah Vine, for her column earlier this week, which described Louise Mensch as having "pert but modest-sized breasts" and "a lithe and toned body". He has little choice in the matter, since he is also a victim of his wife's pen, of which he lives in mortal terror. Earlier this week, Vine wrote that the Education Secretary aims to “drop two dress sizes in six weeks”. Her view of his breasts cannot be long delayed.