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Michael Gove: Top quotes

Never afraid to speak his mind, Michael Gove had a very particular turn of phrase and never shirked an opportunity to show it, whether it be about the so-called Blob, unions, Mr Men or even the Karma Sutra.

Gove on the enemies of promise:

“The new enemies of promise are a set of politically motivated individuals who have been actively trying to prevent millions of our poorest children getting the education they need.”

Gove on unions:

“More and more schools are now being rated good and outstanding. But there are still a tiny minority of teachers who see themselves as part of The Blob and have enlisted as enemies of promise.

“They are the ultra-militants in the unions who are threatening strikes. They oppose our plans to pay good teachers more because they resent the recognition of excellence and they hate academy schools because heads in those schools put the needs of children ahead of the demands of shop stewards.”

Gove on his Labour predecessors:

“Unfortunately, the real achievements of children on the ground became debased and devalued because Labor education secretaries sounded like Soviet commissars praising the tractor production figures when we know that those exams were not the rock-solid measures of achievement that children deserve.”

Gove on discipline:

“Writing lines is tedious, monotonous, boring – and a perfect punishment for bad behaviour. Children need to learn the importance of strong discipline and to understand that misbehaving at school has consequences.

“We are making crystal clear to teachers that telling pupils to write lines is an entirely appropriate punishment.”

Gove on the First World War:

“The conflict has, for many, been seen through the fictional prism of dramas such as Oh! What a Lovely War, The Monocled Mutineer and Blackadder, as a misbegotten shambles – a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite. Even to this day there are left-wing academics all too happy to feed those myths."

Gove on The Blob:

“In the past, The Blob tended to operate by stealth, using its influence to control the quangos and committees which shaped policy. But The Blob has broken cover in the letters pages of the broadsheets because this government is taking it on. 

“We have abolished the quangos they controlled. We have given a majority of secondary schools academy status so they are free from the influence of The Blob’s allies in local government. We are moving teacher training away from university departments and into our best schools. And we are reforming our curriculum and exams to restore the rigour they abandoned.”

Gove on Mr Men:

“One set of history teaching resources... suggests spending classroom time depicting the rise of Hitler as a Mr Men story.

"I may be unfamiliar with all of Roger Hargreaves's work, but I am not sure he ever got round to producing Mr Anti-Semitic Dictator, Mr Junker General or Mr Dutch Communist Scapegoat.”

Gove on the literary canon:

"We need to reform English. The great tradition of our literature – Dryden, Pope, Swift, Byron, Keats, Shelley, Austen, Dickens and Hardy – should be at the heart of school life.

"Our literature is the best in the world – it is every child’s birthright and we should be proud to teach it in every school.”

Gove on French lesbian poetry:

“Having devoted as much of my department's discretionary budget as possible to attracting more teachers into maths and science subjects, including computer science, I am certainly no enemy of equipping people with the skills required to master technology.

“But I am certainly an enemy of those who would deprecate the study of French lesbian poetry. Because the casual dismissal of poetry as though it were a useless luxury and its study a self-indulgence is a display of prejudice. It is another example of the bias against knowledge.”

Gove on strikes:

“You know, you don't see hospital consultants going on strike, and I don't believe that teachers and headteachers should. It's within their rights, it's a civil right, but I think it is wrong in terms of the reputation of the profession.”

Gove on the Kama Sutra:

“You [Labour education spokesman Tristram Hunt] have had more contorted positions on free schools than some Indian sex manuals that I could name.”

Gove on headteachers:

“If people say 'It's all just a bit too much', my view is 'man up!'”


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