Gove highlights wife's Welsh roots in education row


Michael Gove has tried a new approach in his continuing row with the Welsh government over education standards.

The education secretary tried a "more in sorrow than in anger" tone when facing MPs' questions about his proposed changes to GCSEs in England.

And just to show that it's nothing personal, he reminded the Commons of his wife's Celtic roots - last used to defy accusations of "Cymru-phobia".

"As someone married to a Welsh girl," he said, "it grieves me that the Welsh education system under Labour has gone backwards and it grieves me even more that every objective assessment of what's happened to education in Wales under Labour shows that education in England has improved more quickly and more effectively."

The "Welsh girl" in question is better known as The Times writer, Sarah Vine - but back to the Scottish boy, as she may be tempted to refer to him.

He challenged his Welsh counterpart Leighton Andrews directly: ""I hope that the Education Minister in Wales will embrace the progressive reforms that this coalition government has put forward. There's an opportunity for him now to show that he's ready to operate in a constructive fashion."

Mr Andrews has ordered his own review of qualifications for 14 to 19-year-olds and described Mr Gove's proposals as "a backwards step for England to be honest."

The row over education standards appears to be deepening - and widening. Baroness Randerson, the Liberal Democrat Wales Office minister recently appointed to make sure "that London and Cardiff work together for the benefit of children in Wales" may soon have to send for reinforcements.

David Cornock Article written by David Cornock David Cornock Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

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  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    #4 'Or is one language somewhat higher up the evolutionary pecking order, what?'
    Curious, that you mention evolution. Remember 'survival of the fittest' English : spoken by over a billion people,universal language of science, growing.
    Welsh: spoken by, maybe 300,000 people. Language of the Mabinogion and road signs. Declining.
    I say that English is higher up the evolutionary pecking order.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Firstly I couldn't care less in Gove's squeeze is of Welsh decent to lesser his patronising attitude towards Wales. It's odd the silence over the new English bac when the our bac was introduced alongside GCSEs certain poster said we backwards? Also numerous teaching organisations have said the English total Scrapping of GCSE's is a mistake, a retrograde step. I smell Hypocrites in the air?

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    @ Sedwot...the lack of measuring accurately at Key Stage 2
    Add to this the incorporation of of KS1 into the Foundation phase (or play phase) and the result is that primary education in Wales does not now begin until the age of 7. Prior to that the schools could really presumed to be just baby sitting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    and the shambles that is welsh politics lurches from one home made crisis to the next.
    I suppose this is what happens when you have a one party state who love the top down aproach of control.
    under labour in wales what has happened to our educational standards?they've gone down!trebbles all round you bunch of clowns

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Finding out at age 15 that a pupil has been let down by his schooling up to age 11! What worries me is that we have known over the last 6 years that schooling in Wales was failing BECAUSE we could compare with England (no, I'm not saying England is wonderful) but what happens when Wales has a unique system of measurement? I take it we just wait for PISA to come round again...then find excuses!

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    are just measures which have to be consistent from year to year to show the direction of travel of education overall. The problem in Wales is not the GCSE measure but the lack of measuring accurately at Key Stage 2. Without external examination we have no indication of the achievement of PRIMARY school children. Illiteracy and innumeracy at age 11 is the real problem in Wales. It is no good...

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    What a strange view of "qualifications" is emerging! GCSEs are designed to be an accurate measure of a pupils achievement in the education system. Changing the way achievement is measured doesn't change the standard of schooling. Predictably the Nationalists are urging Wales to follow Scotland but ignoring the far better standards achieved in Northern Ireland. GCE's, GCSEs, Welsh/English Baccs...

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Leighton Andrews has failed Wales for over 1000 days and Labour for over 13 years. Education should be removed from the devolution settlement, all they've done is stagnate and make Welsh a compulsory subject anti-democratically. Good on Gove, go for growth, maybe one day we'll give our children a chance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    With this Scotsmans strong Welsh links it's a wonder he didn't become SoS Of Wales.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    @1 Perhaps you'd like to scrap compulsory English instead? Why not give the children of Wales the choice of studying Welsh or English?

    Or is one language somewhat higher up the evolutionary pecking order, what?

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Oh the anti Welsh brigade are out as ever... We need qualifications that help people reach their full potential, maybe we should look at what Scotland does, complete with its mix of assessment methods and single Scottish exam framwork. As England has abandoned, unilaterally, the qualification used by the rest of the UK other than Scotland, perhaps we need something that meets our needs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Maybe they should just put the kids in charge of their own education? In Wales they certainly couldn't do any worse!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    To welsh...welsh on (vb)..To fail to pay (a debt) or fulfil (an obligation)

    As seen in all good dictionaries.

    The struggling and hopelessly desperate Leighton Andrews. If he is serious about improving the appallingly low standards of education in Wales he should scrap all compulsory Welsh language education.

    The time and money saved could then be used on important and useful subjects !



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