It's risky to make cuts if you're short-sighted

7th January 2011 at 00:00

Education secretary Michael Gove is intelligent but doubt must be cast on his political antennae, which are crucial for a politician and especially so in these times of coalition.

The decision to axe the funding for Bookstart matched that of axing School Sport Partnerships funding - there was little or no consultation, peremptory announcements to the press and unthinking support from the leadership in and out of the House of Commons. The genuine outrage from inside and outside education led to backtracking on the sport partnerships and almost certainly the same with Bookstart to achieve as much face-saving as possible.

The worry now for the future of education policy is that decisions will continue to appear off the cuff, ill thought out and capricious. Choosing the target for a cut seems to be based on a new Department for Education game: "Think of a cut in more than 30 seconds, write it on a card, shuffle and lay face down and let the secretary of state choose one."

It is bad politics, it demoralises groups who are making things actually work and it undermines public confidence.

Mr Gove makes much of his vision for education. At the moment he would do better to listen to the catchphrase: "He should have gone to SpecSavers."

Tony Roberts, Lancashire NAHT secretary, Preston.

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