Children, Schools and Families Bill

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 5:19 pm on 11th January 2010.

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Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove Shadow Secretary of State (Children, Schools and Families) 5:19 pm, 11th January 2010

I will not at the moment.

The one consistent complaint I hear when I talk to teachers, heads, governors, academy sponsors, parents, local authorities, and indeed anyone involved in education-it is voiced most loudly by the most successful- is this: "We face too much bureaucracy." Therefore, I approach any attempt to pile additional bureaucracy on the educational system with scepticism. Why? I do so because we know that systems work well when they are built on trust. That is the principle for Cabinet government and the principle for success in any school, and it is also the principle that should animate our entire education system. We know that trust depends on respecting autonomy. We recognise that education depends crucially on great teachers and superb school leaders. We want a culture in education where the craft of teaching is respected and the professional status of heads and teachers is enhanced at every stage. That is why we oppose many of the provisions in the Bill.

I know that the Secretary of State will say that, in opposing the Bill, we are opposing any help of any kind for pupils falling behind, and that we are against all cultural and sporting activity-indeed, that we are for deep and invincible ignorance, while he is for a new age of enlightenment and goodness. It does not matter much what we say or do, because the Secretary of State has his script written anyway.

The Secretary of State has argued that we are in favour of closing Sure Start centres, when we want more people to go to more of them. He has argued that we would abolish key stage 2 tests, when we want more rigour and greater transparency. He has argued that we are against people staying on in education, when it is our goal to raise participation beyond the current level. I am sure that between now and the election we will hear more of the same from the Secretary of State, with his characteristic machismo. However, given the transparently political nature of the Bill, you will forgive me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if I decline to play the political game, and instead insist on scrutinising what lies before us and say that I am afraid that it does not pass muster.

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