Thursday 22 March 2018

Gove 'wants to help only brightest'

Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said said vocational qualifications should be overhauled
Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said said vocational qualifications should be overhauled

Education Secretary Michael Gove has been accused of only wanting to help the nation's brightest pupils.

Mr Gove's reforms will not give pupils a broad education, and are not suitable for the modern world, according to Stephen Twigg, Labour's shadow education secretary.

He said Mr Gove is still "fighting the battles of 30 years ago", and compared him to a Japanese Second World War soldier who did not lay down his rifle until 1974.

In a column for the Times Educational Supplement, Mr Twigg reiterated a call for an overhaul of vocational qualifications.

He wrote: "On March 9, 1974, the Japanese soldier Hiroo Onoda finally handed over his rifle to his commanding officer, after continuing to fight in the Second World War almost 30 years after the conflict had ended... In many ways Michael Gove is still fighting the battles of 30 years ago.

"Thirty years ago, O-levels were about to be abolished for being out of date, but Michael Gove would dearly love to bring them back. The two tier system was in full swing then - social inequality in education achievement actually worsened in the UK during the 1980s and early 1990s.

"Thirty years ago, 20,000 students did Latin a year, but hardly anyone studied engineering at school. Today thousands of students study engineering, despite the fact that Michael Gove tried to downgrade the engineering diploma that had been designed by Rolls-Royce."

Mr Twigg added that 30 years ago, only a "handful" of working class pupils won places Oxford and Cambridge, now around 12% of Oxbridge's intake is made up of pupils from these families. He said that while this is still too low, progress has been made.

But Mr Twigg added that concerns have been raised that Government plans to decouple AS-levels from A-levels will jeopardise this progress.

"The problem goes to the heart of Michael Gove's philosophy," he wrote. "He believes in only helping a few pupils at the top - with a narrow curriculum, two tier exams and a handful of free schools. This kind of 'trickle down' approach to education won't work in the modern world. We can't build a successful economy from the top down."

Press Association

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