Secretary of State answers #AskGove questions

20 December 2013

On 18 December 2013 the Education Committee held an oral evidence session with the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove MP.

Following the success of #AskGove in January 2012 the Committee decided to re-launch the hashtag and invited members of the public to submit questions via Twitter. Users were asked to use #AskGove to raise issues that were broadly related to education or children’s services.

The Committee also identified three specific issues it wished to raise with the Secretary of State: social care, careers guidance and school places. Twitter users were asked to use the associated hashtags, #careers, #care and #places, alongside #AskGove, to submit questions related to these subjects.

About #AskGove

Between 9 and 12 December the Committee gathered over 2,000 tweets, the vast majority of which were substantive questions on education policy and children’s services.  Outside the three specified subjects of social care, careers guidance and school places, the most popular topics included: the school landscape; school funding; teachers’ pay, conditions and morale; and exams, curriculum and accountability.

Sorting and selecting the questions

After the deadline Committee staff grouped questions into subject groups which were presented to Members of the Committee.  Twitter submissions were therefore used to inspire Members’ own questions as well as being asked directly to the Secretary of State.

Structure of the session

The evidence session was split into four sections.  The first three sections addressed social care, careers guidance and school places and the final section served as an opportunity for Members of the Committee to raise some of the broader issues identified through twitter submissions.

Future use of twitter questions

Time restrictions limited the number of subjects that the Committee was able to address and there are therefore many important issues that were not raised with the Secretary of State.  The Committee values the public’s contributions and in the future will consult the questions submitted, seeking to incorporate some, where possible and appropriate, in future evidence sessions with Ministers.
The headings below outline the broad areas of questioning covered by the Committee; the links correspond to the relevant point of the #AskGove recording. The questions listed are either those that were asked directly to the Secretary of State or examples of the kinds of questions that inspired the Committee’s lines of questioning.

Social Care

  • YouTube: Watch Michael Gove answer questions on social care
  • What is your vision for the future for the children in care and how do you plan to get there?
  • Do you believe that constant scrutiny and judgement of individuals is conducive to positive working environments and helpful for confidence?
  • Will all local authorities with an inadequate rating have child protection responsibility removed from them?
  • What advice would you give an LA in delivering more for less, given falling budges for early intervention/prevention?
  • What are you going to do about maintaining early intervention/prevention services? In order to manage #SocialCare overload?
  • Why is there a different care leaving age for foster care than children’s homes?


School Places

  • YouTube: Watch Michael Gove answer questions on school places
  • Should schools be required to expand (potentially over-ruling the governing body) if there is proven demand in the area?
  • How much does each place in a free school cost the taxpayer?
  • What is the average cost per pupil in Free Schools and Academies? How does this compare to average cost per pupil in LA schools?
  • Would it not be beneficial to re-introduce Grammar Schools or selective schools back into the British educational system?
  • New regional commissioners are bureaucrats, aren’t they? Despite the charade of them being based in a school?
  • Couldn’t the money put aside to pay the regional commissioners be better used by schools for children’s benefit?
  • Why are free schools being forced on local authorities that already have sufficient school places?

General policy

School funding

  • YouTube: Watch Michael Gove answer questions on school funding
  • When all infant children are entitled to FSM how will government calculate pupil premium?
  • How can the funding cut for 18 year olds be justified? Are the costs of educating an 18 year old in 2014/15 17% lower than a 17 year old?
  • When do you plan on giving 6th form colleges the same VAT exemption/funding per student as 6th forms in schools?
  • Why spend £600k on free school meals for all 4/5 year olds, then swipe £150k off core funding for 18 year olds, many of whom are disadvantaged?

Exams, curriculum and accountability

  • YouTube: Watch Michael Gove answer questions on exams, curriculum and accountability
  • How are you planning to tackle the demoralising effect that linear exams and no coursework will have on children who struggle?
  • New GCSE specs deny access to many students in special schools who used to achieve grades C-G.  Have we written them off?
  • Please confirm which Non EBacc GCSEs will count as “high value” subjects in the 2016 accountability measures.
  • Please can we allow children to do fewer GCSEs but spend more time on each?
  • Why not freedom from National Curriculum allowed to all good or outstanding schools, if allowed for free schools and academies?
  • Why is there a National Curriculum if only ‘some’ schools have to follow it?
  • What type of training will teachers receive to implement the new National Curriculum?
  • Who is going to train our staff how to deliver new computing curriculum Mr Gove?
  • Do you still only value #drama as an extra-curricular subject?
  • Where does he imagine the new artistic and cultural elite of this country will come from?
  • Considering the economic shortage of engineers and employees for STEM related careers, why is D&T not an EBacc subject?
  • Life-saving skills like CPR are too vital to leave schools to decide whether they’re taught.  Why aren’t these taught to all pupils?
  • IoP report: 49% of state mixed schools are “reinforcing gender stereotypes” in terms of A-level subjects.  How will you stop this?
  • Are careers options being limited by gender stereotyping?

Image: Parliamentary copyright

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