Michael Gove: 100,000 people call on the education secretary to 'teach for a term'
Michael Gove is no stranger to controversy and is used to attracting fury from certain sections of the teaching community.
But the popularity of a petition on a campaigners’ website suggests that there is one thing above all others currently grating with the profession: his lack of teaching experience.
More than 103,000 people have signed up to an e-petition calling for the education secretary to spend “at least half a term” working as a teacher in a primary classroom.
Campaigners who started the petition on the 38 Degrees website claim it is “absolutely absurd” that the education secretary had “no grasp of the education system and what teachers do”.
“Before Mr Gove can make any more ridiculous changes to our pay, pensions and working conditions, he needs to experience exactly what it is to be a teacher”, the petition says.
The petition is accompanied by a stream of comments from signatories, including one who wrote: "He does not have any idea of how challenging being a primary school teacher is. Have a go, Gove and find out for yourself."
Another wrote: “This man has absolutely no idea what teachers have to go through. I now teach internationally and one of the reasons is because of what this man is doing in the UK. I know a number of international teachers who won’t go back until he’s gone.”
The website’s managers say that the Gove campaign, which was launched last year, attracts several thousand more signatures every time he says something controversial. For example, more than 21,000 people signed after he criticised Blackadder’s representation of the First World War last week.
But the call for Mr Gove to spend time working as a teacher is not the only petition aimed at him.
In its “Campaigns by You” section, where any member of the public can start a petition, around 55 petitions aimed at Michael Gove or his policies have been set up in just over a year, making him the most targeted politician on the site.
One, apparently set up by 12-year-old Jack Cole, calls for Mr Gove to “stop meddling” in his education and has attracted 10,000 signatures.
Another, “Remove Michael Gove from Office”, has garnered 25,000 signatures.
Andrew Tobert, the Campaigns by You manager at 38 Degrees, said: “For 100,000 people to sign a petition that hasn’t had any publicity or marketing is a big deal.
“In an unscientific analysis [of the petitions on the site] he’s a much more emotive figure in terms of the number of petitions and the number of responses.”
Previously, the 38 Degrees organisation supported a successful campaign to ensure that Michael Gove did not take the issue of climate change off the curriculum, with a petition garnering 37,000 signatures.