Increasingly, it seems Michael Gove is wanting to re-make the educational world into a mixture of the 1970s Aberdeen of his youth and an imagined version of an independent school nirvana.
Talking to other heads over recent days, I find that I am not alone in my bemusement. Having rejected the one element of the reform made to A Levels in 2000 that enjoyed strong support from across the educational sector – the breadth provided by 4 subjects in 6.1 – he is now brandishing elements of independent education that are seen within the sector as antique or even archaic. So, he is praising the Common Entrance exam which is fast being superseded and recommending writing lines as a punishment – something that even the most determinedly conservative independent schools stopped doing a long time ago. Although I admire his forthright determination that children in the maintained sector should have comparable opportunities to the independent sector, there is something faintly embarrassing about hearing him talk of the virtues of 10 hour days and playing fields when there is no political will or public cash to enable these things to happen in the maintained sector.
Although I see the MG world as dressed in flares and gingerly sipping McEwans Tartan, here is a more forthright view of the MG world as one of imagined 1950s values.
By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools
Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.