Gove in vast majority of teachers ‘bad’ claim

GovepicEver wondered how many bad teachers there are in the UK’s state schools?  Well, wonder no more, because no less a personage than the Secretary of State for Education himself has given a definitive answer – and it might be a few more than you think.


The moment of revelation came during a Newsnight interview last night (Wednesday 9th July – it’s still up on the BBC iPlayer at time of writing; the interview in question is about 25 minutes in) when, in the context of a piece on today’s strike action by NUT, Unite, GMB and other union members, the interviewer pointed out that, according to a recent poll, just 16% of teachers supported Gove’s reforms of the education system.  Gove’s riposte after spluttering that he wasn’t sure about the accuracy of the poll (ironic really considering what he was about to say) was to point out that actually ‘outstanding teachers and head teachers’ supported his reforms.  The reporter asked if that meant that only ‘bad teachers’ opposed them, to which Gove responded unequivocally (unusually for a politician) ‘yes’.


So there you have it.  If you support Gove’s wholesale dismantling of the state education system, you’re good.  If you oppose it, you’re bad.  Nice to see such a nuanced, thoughtful response from a man with such massive responsibility.  If Gove is right and those 84% of teachers who don’t support him are the bad ones, then the number of bad teachers in Britain’s schools is approximately 367,920 (based on the latest figures available from the DoE that say, as of November 2011 there are 438,000 full time teachers in the nation’s schools).  That’s a lot of capability proceedings right there.  Good job I’m in a union, eh?


  1. Jen Salmon

    Perhaps someone should put Mr Gove into a “challenging” classroom for a term with all the responsibilities/problems that could arise. Maybe then he might realise just what teachers deal with on a daily basis both during school hours and beyond.

    • jddunsany

      Possibly. One would hope that a secretary of state for education wouldn’t need such drastic measures to gain an insight into the demands of the profession, but this one seems particularly lacking in understanding of the day to day experience of the teachers he seems quite happy to take a pop at. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Pingback: Gove in vast majority of teachers ‘bad’ claim | Education, an experience
  3. John Pearson

    Bit of a narrow minded view, and interpretation of the interview. With out change the situation will remain the same.

    • jddunsany

      Thank you for your comment, John. You’re quite right in saying that my post is a bit “narrow minded”. It only focuses on one small aspect of the interview and there is admittedly plenty more that could be said about it. I’m afraid I invariably find dealing with the secretary of state for education’s public utterances quite nauseating, so restricted myself to what I felt was the most telling section of it.

      And it is quite telling, isn’t it? After all, he could have answered that question in a number of ways. He could have acknowledged that he still has some way to go to convince the profession that he is relying on to deliver most of his reforms that those reforms are beneficial. He could have taken the opportunity to point out that he appreciates the contribution that all teachers make, not just the ones who agree with them. In short, he could have been humble – or at the very least human. But he wasn’t, was he? Instead, he delivered a blunt absolute answer that splits the profession neatly (if unequally) between those who believe in his vision for the UK education system (good) and those who don’t (bad). Considering some of the other things he and spokespeople from his department have said, I’m not surprised, but it is the baldest indication yet of how contemptuous of the vast majority of teachers Gove is and how unsympathetic he is to their concerns.

      As to the topic of “change”… where to begin? I’m an English teacher and have been for almost fourteen years. In that time, I’ve seen changes to the curriculum, changes to the examination system (at both KS3, GCSE and A level) and school-imposed changes in a variety of areas and coped reasonably well. I don’t fear change. I don’t, however, think it’s unprofessional to examine proposed changes and have a view on them. Will they be better for the children I teach? Will they be better for me? Will they be better for the profession as a whole? Will they be better for education in this country? I’m afraid I, like many of my colleagues (well over 300,000 of them, apparently), have grave doubts about Gove’s reforms. In fact, the only one of his proposed changes that made sense to me (scrapping competition between examination boards) he’s since quietly dropped. Change in itself is not bad. In fact, with a dynamically changing world and workplace, the education system has to change in order to fulfill its duty to each successive generation of students. I’m not convinced that what Gove is doing will do that.

      Again, thanks for commenting. I appreciate your reply. 🙂

      • susan

        Well it seems I am one of the 84% so called bad teachers. I worked hard to become a teacher as a mature student. I have spent the last 4 of a 12 year teaching career trying to become “outstanding”. In ICT, each year the government changed the syllabus pretty much every year. I went from pillar to post to learn and re learn how to deliver lessons, remodel lesson content and be observed by various members of staff at least 3 times a week to be told. “It was mediocre”, “You need to improve”, “You need to go back to basics”. However, students and parents told me they learnt well, understood their progression, felt valued and confident to develop their learning. When they started to see me being beaten down, they fought for me, they supported me. My dedication to them is why I went into education. I want each young person to feel confident in their own abilities to feel valued for their own personal skills and abilities. They should not feel belittled or inferior because they are not “outstanding” according to some political agenda or someone else’s personal career development. Mr Gove seems to have missed the point that we are all outstanding in our own way. Everyone has their place in life and the ability to achieve whatever they want to. If we teachers treat our students with the disdain and lack of faith and professionalism Mr Gove treats the teaching profession then all schools would be failures. 84% aspire to be outstanding, those who then become outstanding are berated and demoralised to do even better. Please Please trust us to educate in a fair and truthful way. Our children are not stats or targets on a graph to be manipulated to meet political ideals. Square pegs don’t always fit into round holes, we are all individual creative people. Trust us to teach … What proof do we have that Mr Gove is “outstanding” ?? 84% don’t think he is!!

    • Chris Jones

      Well if there are so many bad teachers then all of the Ofsted data on improvements must be seriously flawed. The talk of a dip in the summer results is going to be the largest under statement ever and the move to brilliant academies and free schools and the exceptional improvements that the academy freedoms bring are going to improve the irrespective of the quality of the teaching going on in them. And he says he doubts the data? We know that Mr Gove has some difficulty with maths he clearly has some difficulty with reading and writing too… What I do not understand is why the rest of his cabinet colleagues can’t see the problems he leaves in his wake?!?

  4. James

    I am not a Gove fan in fact I really dislike him – but I dont think the conclusion is correct– what the reporter asked after a lot of sparring is “…so its the bad ones who don’t get it…” to which he answered “yes” – I think this is not the same as your version- and to me she was steering him to get her quote -as I understand it agreeing with the assertion that “…the bad ones don’t get it…” does not mean all those who don’t get are bad…

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