The right-wing militant tendency driving education policy


Many teachers already think that Michael Gove’s policies border on lunacy, and a leaked thesis by one of the Education Secretary’s most trusted advisors will have done little to change that view.

The report by Dominic Cummings argues that our young people’s educational performance is not about the quality of teaching, but about genetics.



Now I’m not so blind to biology to doubt that someone’s genetic make-up clearly has a major impact on the person they are. I’d be unsurprised to learn that there are certain genes that affect learning, and it stands to reason that there are some children more naturally gifted in some areas of education than others.  But Mr Cummings goes some way beyond that.  The implication of his 250-word report is that a child’s educational attainment is almost pre-determined by their DNA.

What a radical and bizarre claim.

Aside from the fact it conflicts with the views of just about every education professional you are ever likely to meet, it somewhat begs the question why Mr Cummings thinks anyone wants to bother trying to raise teaching standards.

All of this reflects very badly on Mr Gove.

Most worryingly, it begs the question what other wild and wonderful ideas have been bounced around in generating some of Mr Gove’s highly controversial changes to education in the last three-and-a-half years. If Mr Gove’s most trusted aide seems to believe the role of teachers in shaping our young people’s minds is so minimal, does this explain the Secretary of State’s total lack of respect for this vitally important profession?

In my home city of Derby we have been on the receiving end of some of Mr Gove’s attacks on education.  We’ve seen academies forced upon the city, and we’ve played host to the most controversial example of Mr Gove’s Free School model, with the Al-Madinah establishment.

And as a city whose children have suffered because of Mr Gove’s interventions, we’ve got every right to feel aggrieved if it now transpires that even the most crackpot ideas are on the table when it comes to the development of Tory education policy.

But what I find particularly worrying about Mr Cummings report is how closely it represents Tory policy generally.

What does Mr Cummings suggest? Do we just abandon schooling and instead put children in a room with the right textbooks and let the natural talent just get on with it while the others flounder?  Well that’s exactly the sort of mentality reflected elsewhere by this Government – a protection of the minority and a total disinterest in supporting, or even thinking about, the majority.

And it is that parallel which makes it very difficult to discount Mr Cummings’ radical views as unconnected from other worrying policies being churned out by Mr Gove and the Tories.

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