Michael Gove – words literally fail me

by Charlie_East_West on February 19, 2013


In amongst the confusion and rhetoric set out by Michael Gove’s radical vision for a “world class” English education system, something valuable appears to be overlooked – the need for pupils to receive world class learning that will actually equip them for life. The focus at present is a land of educational snobbery and confusion recently highlighted by the debacle over the Ebacc.

Gove appears to have drawn up his wish list for education out of some sort of Dickensian manual. I almost expect every child to be forced to write with a quill and ink pot. Does he really know what he is doing? Or is it case of muddled elitist snobbery?

Since the change in government in 2010, Gove has removed the ‘Literacy Framework’, which outlined how to teach literacy in a sustainable and realistic manner. A draft document was sent out to schools in July 2012 for a literacy curriculum to be published in 2014, but the hiatus is leaving teachers somewhat confused about how to apply a set of coherent measures.

Literacy and language skills are the core to essential learning. This fact is still overlooked by Gove and his acolytes, and still languishes in the long grass somewhere. Instead the focus of reform has left an appalling structural mess of free schools, academies and exam criteria.

Apologies in advance for my pedantry. Nobody likes a smart arse pedant. It is a pernickety, po-faced role. But there comes a point when enough is enough.

The misuse of the words ‘like’ and ‘literally’ are everywhere. Literally everywhere. The captain of the literally ridiculousness is Jamie Redknapp:- “Giggs had to cut back inside on to his left, because he literally hasn’t got a right foot.”

Quite, Mr Redknapp, quite.

The failure to understand the basics of language has its roots in early education. Michael Gove recently said: “Nothing matters more than giving every child access to the best possible teaching and leaders”, yet, he has removed a framework for a coherent literacy curriculum and has failed to put anything in its place. He is literally failing our teachers and children.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Eddie Kaye February 19, 2013 at 2:17 pm

‘On his favourite left foot’ always makes me cringe as well – what is wrong with ‘his favoured foot’ his left’?

Murdering the English language seems to have become a national sport. I am amazed by the number of calls I get at work asking me if somene can get a quote over for ‘yourself’…my customary reply is ‘no, I can do it for myself, but yourself can send one to me if you like’. Suffice to say, the irony goes amiss.


Charlie_East_West February 19, 2013 at 2:25 pm

David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Tony Blair are all prime examples of murdering the English language. Their overuse of ‘you know’ hardly sets a good example. Christopher Hitchens knew his onions on this issue. His powerful understanding of the nuances, structures and patterns of the English language should be learned and copied by many public figures today.


George_East February 19, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Hitchens’ hero was, of course, George Orwell and it is Orwell’s 1946 short essay Politics and the English Language which, in my view, is the finest guide to the use of English ever written.


Ray_North February 19, 2013 at 3:10 pm



Charlie_East_West February 19, 2013 at 7:21 pm

As Sir Sean Connery would say…


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