THE BLOG

Gove's Real Legacy - A British Education Reform Movement

23/07/2014 16:54 BST | Updated 22/09/2014 10:59 BST

The heat may go out of the sales of the Michael Gove pin cushions and those who wore their 'enemies of promise' badges may have cheered.

But, more important than the highs and lows of a political career - is that the most enduring legacy of Michael Gove's tenure, has been the creation of a grassroots British education reform movement, that will continue for many years to come.

With a restless ambition for success, this cross party movement, led by educators and leaders across all sectors, is set to grow and expand and has the potential to eclipse the US education reform movement that has stalled due to battles with unions and political and legislative stalemate.

We worked closely with the then education secretary, Michael Gove, and his team on the first Education Reform Summit, held the week before his departure and was his last keynote speech. His zest for future and continued reform was also evident as he chaired a Downing Street roundtable with fellow education ministers, the day after he was told about his new role. You can only wonder whether his scribbled notes taken on the day will ever see the light of day.

As many have said, this is not a win or lose for Gove. It's a much more enduring and ultimately more satisfying legacy. Like him or not; his passionate refusal to accept an education status quo that condemns so many young people to fail was utterly correct. Our achievement gap between rich and poor is a national disgrace and he said so.

We'll never be an education nation until we challenge an education system and society that fails so many. Half-hearted attempts to right this wrong will not work. We must mobilise all of those resources at our disposal. Gove did and the rest of Government must also. Education reform is a good place to start but alone will not solve this national challenge.

There's now a pragmatic education reform movement emerging in this country led by educators desperate for a new conversation about what we do well, but also ambitious for the young people in their care. This is a profession that shares resources on Twitter and Facebook and celebrates each other's successes. It's a profession that often debates with passion but knows that its professional destiny is in its own hands. It's vital we celebrate our national education treasures, but its unacceptable that access to excellence can still depend on how sharp your parents' elbows are.

An education elite will not power future Britain, and Gove understood that. Nor will a curriculum careless of the basics deliver future jobs, skills and growth. The introduction of the computer science curriculum will also be seen as a key moment when we know that our schools and colleges could not isolate themselves from fast paced changes in technology. And we must encourage all parts of society and business to support educators in getting coding in the curriculum, to ensure our education system is equipped for new jobs and new skills. No education system is greater than the quality of its teachers and leaders and the use of technology has to be focussed on supporting those high quality outcomes.

We now know more about 'what works' and we ought to seek inspiration from other successful education systems around the world. But it is this generation of teachers and education leaders who are already changing our own education system from the ground up.

Politicians ought to challenge us, but it is really up to us as parents, citizens and educators to challenge ourselves. It's up to us to question some of the fundamentals of how we deliver education and how we benefit every young person in the future.

Let's build upon the legacy of one of the most reforming secretaries of state for education. But as Mr Gove would have said himself, lets make it a pragmatic and positive movement for education reform - as its still the greatest civil rights issue of our time.

Ty Goddard and Ian Fordham are the co-founders of The Education Foundation