Gove Versus Reality looks at the policies pursued by Michael Gove for his radical and draconian transformation of the English education system challenging his assumptions and the evidence he advances to support his approach.

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Check out the sources for the evidence referred to in the video that counter Gove’s claims and reveal the gap between his pronouncements and reality.

This data is badly flawed
There was considerable disquiet about Gove’s use of PISA data. Look at Full Fact here. You can download the letter from the UK Statistics Authority to David Miliband here.
2012 research puts UK 6th in world
This data comes from The Learning Curve. The report by the Economist Intelligence Unit for Pearson looks at all aspects of school improvement around the world. The report also reconfigures country-by-country performance in the light of a range of different surveys and measures. The table placing UK 6th is on page 40.
All schools already control length of day, teachers pay and curriculum
Schools have considerably more autonomy than Gove has ever admitted. Nearly all the so-called freedoms offered to academies have been available to all schools for many years. For more detail read this and this article. And here a longer and more detailed critique. Much of the current critique of the academies programme emerges from the Academies Commission Report of 2012.
Autonomy alone does not lead to improvement
Ben Levin writes: “That conclusion on organizational change and outcomes does not come from any single study but from a broad examination of the literature in areas such as governance or decentralization or school choice or charter schools (as well as, in my case, my own experience) all of which tend to show no significant effects on student outcomes.” Ben Levin participated in major improvements in Ontario, none of which was linked to school autonomy.
Academies are not doing better than non-academies
Henry Stewart has made a forensic study of data related to the performance of academies both long established and recently established. Watch a more complete version of his presentation in this seven minute video. For his analysis of the most recent data look here. Here is his round-up of myths and facts about academies. Watch a powerful full length documentary on forced academisation here.
Sweden has slipped down PISA rankings
A good survey of the data on Swedish Free Schools can be found here. Other articles pointing to the evidence around the Swedish Free School experiment are here and here.
Now it's American charter schools
Here is a news report on one of the more recent studies about the effectiveness of Charter Schools in the US. The report cited in the CBS news clip can be found here. Gove is particularly keen on the KIPP schools, but there is a growing critique of methods and outcomes. See this report.
Next step: for-profit schools
The headline story about Michigan Charter Schools is here. Here is an article that shows Gove’s likely intentions. This is the link to the article on the secret memo suggesting academies may need to become for-profit.
High stakes testing of an outdated curriculum
Andreas Schleicher, much quoted by Gove, wrote: “Educational success is no longer about reproducing content knowledge, but about extrapolating from what we know and applying that knowledge to novel situations.” Full quote here. Northern Ireland has done very well in international surveys and puts its success down to developing independent learners. Finally, the CBI opposes an overly prescriptive primary curriculum and warns against a return to rote learning, as reported in this article.

The international evidence on the poor impact of high-stakes testing is extensive. The OECD warned: “The extensive focus on grades in the school system is a cause of concern.” (See this article.) Recently the Academies Commission found that innovation is stifled by league tables.

Countries he admires are heading in the opposite direction
This section, which shows that the Asian countries that Gove admires are going in a very different direction comes from The Learning Curve page 36. Look here for an overview of the Singapore curriculum, including a list of desired outcomes for the Holistic Education of Pupils.
Teacher morale has plummeted
The data for this section on teacher morale comes from two recent surveys. The first, in April 2012, is by the NASUWT (download here). The second is a YouGov survey commissioned in 2013.
Performance pay does not work to raise standards
The RAND report on incentive pay is here. An overview of performance-related pay in the US is here. The article about New York’s rejection of its bonus pay scheme is here.
What does his ideology mean for our children
The Academies Commission found that not all academies were committed to social inclusion and put forward some recommendations to avoid social segregation. For a summary and links see this article. For more information on the way the restrictive curriculum is going in the opposite direction to the rest of the world see this article. In this article read Robin Alexander’s devastating critique of the government’s primary curriculum proposals.

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The video was produced by ABA Education Consultancy Ltd.


Researched and directed by Andrew Bethell

Produced by Helen Casey

Edited by Sam Bennett

Website by James Melly