I’m not sure how many of you caught Michael Gove’s speech at the Westminster Academy on 6 September but it had a certain irony. On the day he issued his strongest endorsement of 14-16 history I’ve yet heard,(post-election), it just happened to be at an Academy where , according to the most recent HS Survey (Sept 2010) history is in danger of being lost within integrated humanities. For me, Gove’s speech had far more impact than the HA survey. There were 10 things he said that resonated with me and I’d like to share them with you. The highlight for me is his statemen that he intends to explore the idea of measuring schools in terms of 5+ A*-C GCSE grades,that includes a HUMANITY subject. Now there’s a thought. It might backfire so let’s think through the full implications before we rejoice. I can still see some devious league table-driven headteachers who will find a way round this.
Anyway, in no particular order here they are my Top 10 Gove quotes from yesterday’s speech:
1.So I’m proposing that the Government look at how many young people in each secondary school secure five good GCSEs including: English, Maths, a Science, a Modern or Ancient language and a humanity like History or Geography, Art or Music.
2.And I am passionately concerned that we introduce more and more young people to the best that has been thought and written – which is why I lament the retreat from history teaching in some of our schools and believe also that we should incentivise deeper knowledge of our shared cultural heritage
3.I believe that a change in how we measure and grade schools, to reward those who have pupils who succeed in all these areas, and a special recognition of student achievement with the award of a Baccalaureate certificate to those pupils who secure these passes, could re-invigorate the culture of learning in this country
4. I believe there is an argument that the vast majority of young people should take a wider range of core academic GCSEs – an English Baccalaureate that would ensure that all children – especially those from less privileged backgrounds have a chance to gain a base of knowledge – and a set of life chances – too often restricted to the wealthy.
5.So I’m proposing that the Government look at how many young people in each secondary school secure five good GCSEs including: English, Maths, a Science, a Modern or Ancient language and a humanity like History or Geography, Art or Music.
6.Nearly every other developed country in the world children are assessed in a range of core academic subjects at 15 or 16 even if they are on a “vocational” route.
7.This is true in Europe where – for example in France all children take the Brevet des Colleges which assesses French, Maths, History/Geography/Civics and a Modern Foreign Language.
8.In places like Holland that have separate vocational routes from the beginning of secondary school all children are still typically assessed on the core academic subjects (in Holland this is languages, arts, science, maths and history).
9.In Finland – the best performing country in Europe according to international league tables all children are assessed in maths, Finnish, history, science and art/music at GCSE age.
10.And in the States nearly all schools have mandatory assessment during high school in maths, English, science and social studies (including history and politics)
We must return to this over the next few days once the dust has settled.