By Monitor

FROM the start Michael Gove has been the most pro-active and least predictable of ministers in Britain's Lib-Con coalition government. Plans and targets have been announced, withdrawn, revised and re-launched. Now he has revealed a new approach -- to judge the performance of schools and their students by analysing examination results using criteria made known only after the tests have taken place. This week there have been protests from head masters and teachers unions over what many consider a blatant case of “moving the goalposts” for GCSE passes, with the result that only 15.6 per cent of pupils achieved the revised targets. The problem arises with the so-called “English baccalaureate” introduced by the previous government and originally consisting of tests in English, Maths and three vocational subjects; Mr Gove substituted languages, sciences and humanities for the vocational subjects but apparently did not bother to inform schools that he was doing so. He has responded to criticism of his methods by saying that the Government wanted to “deny schools a chance to influence their position.”

Protests have come from a wide range of schools, one of them from the High Master of the prestigious Manchester Grammar School who called the selection of subjects as “half-baked” and the retrospective judgement as “failing to recognise the obvious success of most students in our schools.”

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