England & Wales

E-mail from Michael Gove to his Civil Servants


Jasmine was at Sanctuary Buildings yesterday when the rainbow was taken down. Now we’re starting to get some clues about what will be going up in its place. Here’s Michael Gove’s e-mail to staff in his new department:

Dear colleague

I am delighted that the Prime Minister has appointed me Secretary of State for Education in his new coalition Government.

As the Prime Minister said in Downing Street last night, the coming together of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties to form one strong Government marks a new era for Britain and for British politics. I believe that it can also mark a new era for our education system.

There is, I believe, nothing more important to the fairness of our society and the future prosperity of our country than getting education right.

Too many children still leave primary school every year without meeting basic standards in English or Maths and too few 16-year-olds get five decent GCSEs. So improving literacy, raising pupil attainment, extending parental choice, freeing teachers from bureaucracy, improving discipline and closing the widening gap between the richest and the poorest should be our shared goal.

To help us achieve the radical reforms that we will need, I want to refocus the Department on its core purpose of supporting teaching and learning. So I am delighted that we have acted immediately to create a new Department for Education.

School reform will be our priority but schools only succeed when society is strong, which is why we will also strengthen and reform children’s services.

We want to ensure the direction of our reform programme is clear. In the weeks ahead, I want us to offer all schools the chance to enjoy academy-style freedoms so that heads and teachers across the country can be liberated. This will be the focus of the legislation we hope to bring forward later this month.

We will also work to allow charities, parents and teachers’ groups to open a new generation of small schools with smaller class sizes; introduce a new pupil premium which will ensure more funding is targeted to the most deprived pupils; give schools greater freedom over the curriculum; radically reform our exam system so that all schools can offer a wider range of qualifications; and support our great teachers by giving them more powers to ensure higher standards of discipline.

Over the past year, I have spoken to the Permanent Secretary, David Bell, and to the Directors General a number of times. I have been hugely impressed by their integrity, their impartiality and their commitment to detailed and thorough preparation. I know that these same qualities characterise the work of the whole Department and that you will be well prepared to start work quickly.

Our challenging programme of work comes against the backdrop of a far tighter fiscal climate. But I do believe that we have an exciting journey ahead. I and the new Ministerial team are looking forward to meeting many of you in the weeks and months to come as we begin our journey together.