Michael Gove (who, I must emphasise for US and Canadian readers, is actually in charge of
UKEnglish state education and is not just a comedy character like Boris Johnson the so-called “Mayor” of London) is a cause of great concern to many working in UK education. His policy misjudgements and general lack of understanding are well chronicled, most recently in this excellent post at ReeseRants. But he is equally notable for the huge range of unlikely, unwise or just plain odd stories about him. So here is a primer, complete with animated gifs.
1. With the unprecedented drop in GCSE “A” grades this August, Michael Gove is the only Education Secretary in history to preside over a decline in GCSE exam performance.
2. As a former The Times of London (owned by NewsCorp) leader writer, Gove has a book contract from HarperCollins (a NewsCorp subsiduary) for a political biography of the first Viscount Bolingbroke. He’s had it since 2006, along with an undisclosed advance, and still hasn’t delivered.
3. Almost immediately after becoming Education Secretary, Gove held a meeting with educational technology enthusiast and NewsCorp chair Rupert Murdoch. Five days later, Gove closed BECTA - the UK schools technology specialists who regulated the schools technology market.
4. To avoid the hassle of responding to Freedom of Information requests, Gove discusses policy with advisors using a private email address under the name of Mrs Blurt.
5. His wife (and a Times columnist/NewsCorp employee) Sarah Vine, once wrote a piece detailing how to be a perfect housewife. It included this sage advice: ““As to sex, you’ll soon be down to doing it once a month while the children are at Granny’s, so really he should get accustomed to the idea now.”
6. He once employed one Rebecca Wolf as a political aide. So impressed was she by the Charter Schools movement during a trip to the US, she founded a New Schools Network in the UK. This network was then – directly, without tender – awarded a contract to support the development of “Free Schools” in the UK. Similar organisations in the US (StudentsFirst, Education Reform Now) are funded by NewsCorp.
7. Joel Klein, former New York Schools chief and now head of NewsCorp’s new education division, describes Gove as a “hero“.
8. As former member of the National Union of Journalists, he participated in a lengthy strike in support of union recognition.
9. Lucky old Michael is a millionaire, like many of his cabinet colleagues. As both he and his wife worked (and continue to work) in high profile journalistic jobs for News International, it can only be assumed that it is another thing for which he can thank his friends at NewsCorp.
10. Gove appeared alongside Christopher Lee in the little-known 1995 low-budget British public school comedy “A Feast at Midnight”. He played the part of a school chaplain (the picture at the top of this list is him). Interestingly, the “hero” of the film rejoiced in the name “Magnus Gove”.
11. Bonus GoveLOLs – Gove fell on his arse in front of an appreciative camera crew from Rupert Murdoch’s Sky TV.