Schoolzone blog: Nicky Morgan's secret passion

Nicky Morgan's secret passion
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02 Dec 2014

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At schoolzone we talk to passionate people every day. As a chair of governors, I work closely with some incredibly passionate people. When someone is passionate about schools it comes across loud and clear.

So it's something of a surprise to hear Nicky Morgan describe her vision for education as "a lifelong passion" in her speech last week, since she's not shown much sign of it before now (posts passim). Still, that's got to be a good thing in an education secretary, yes?

Well, reading the rest of the speech makes me wonder about her interpretation of "passion", since the vision for education that she's so passionate about boils down to:

  • "Tone down the rhetoric and let’s have a reasoned debate based on what works" - ie let's put Gove behind us.
  • "A firm pledge to outline concrete proposals for supporting schools to reduce their teachers workload" - a firm pledge to outline concrete proposals to support schools - wow! We can all rest assured that easier days lie ahead with that promise made.
  • "Promoting Save the Children’s campaign to get parents to set aside 10 minutes a day for their children to read to them or something as simple as practicing their times tables". Errr... well done Save the Children, but is promoting the initiative the best the Department for Education can do?
  • "A new focus on character education." Leaving aside the snide comments about Morgan needing to learn how to have some character (oh, I seem not to have left them aside), let's move quickly on to the supporting hyperbole: "We want pupils to revel in the achievement of victory, but honour the principles of fair play, to win with grace and to learn the lessons of defeat with acceptance and humility. And we want pupils to become honest citizens who contribute to their communities, neighbourhoods and countries." And the solution Morgan offers: more school debates! Hurrah! Apparently private schools win all the top 10 awards at the Oxford schools debating competition: "that, ladies and gentlemen, is nothing short of a scandal". Morgan's passion is really starting to show here.

But sadly, that's where the passion peaks, after that it's a boring decline into re-iteration of old stuff: PE funding, National Citizens Service, extremist views, blah blah.

Whatever we thought of Gove, at least we know what his vision was and whatever we thought of that, at least it was interesting.




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