Education and Health

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 4:31 pm on 2nd June 2010.

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Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove The Secretary of State for Education 4:31 pm, 2nd June 2010

Schools must demonstrate that the acquisition of the freedoms will help drive attainment for children in that area, and that it will also work for other schools.

This is a comprehensive plan to ensure that our state education system is the best in the world, and it is informed by what is happening across the world. Sadly, in the past 10 years, we have fallen behind other countries: we have slipped from fourth to 14th in the world for the quality of our children's science; from seventh to 17th for the quality of their literacy; and from eighth to 24th for the quality of their maths. We cannot go on like this. While other countries accelerated their reform programmes in the past three years, we went into reverse. In the past three years, the outgoing Government added thousands of pages to the bureaucratic burden faced by schools. They robbed academies of vital freedoms and tried to abolish traditional subjects such as history and geography in the primary curriculum. They created an inspection regime that stifled innovation, failed to take proper action against extremism in the classroom and prevented teachers from searching for disruptive mobile devices and hardcore pornography on so-called human rights grounds.

The previous Government did make progress in certain areas. The former Secretary of State published his own cook book, "Real Meals"- two, in fact-which was distributed to every school in the land. In the words of the Speaker, when opening the debate on the Queen's Speech, I have "obtained a copy" for the better understanding of the House. Right hon. and hon. Members may wish to read it during our deliberations this afternoon to get a better understanding of just what he was doing for much of his time in office. Certainly, time spent familiarising oneself with his recipes will not be wasted. I am sure that many of us will be captivated by the eye-watering sight of his mighty muffins in full colour on these pages. I have to say that the shadow Secretary of State certainly has a beautiful set of buns. May I congratulate him for striking a blow against elitism with his cook book? For the first time in history, a socialist Government's response to poor achievement was, "Let them eat cake."