The “and” makes a difference

There is an interesting paragraph in the speech that Michael Gove made to the National College yesterday.

Because all children can succeed in school – and many, many more than we allow for at the moment can secure outstanding exam passes, complete demanding apprenticeships, achieve our new, and aspirational, technical baccalaureate standard or go on to university.

Why interesting? Well, it seems to separate success from passing exams. “…all children can succeed in school”, followed by “..and many, many more than we allow for at the moment can secure outstanding exam passes…”. The “and” makes a different. It says that the exam passes are only one way of measuring success.

A couple of paragraphs earlier we have:

Sadly, there are still young people who leave school without the exam passes, without the literacy, without the numerical ability, without the strength of character, to choose their own future. They are unable to choose the jobs they want, unable to buy a home in which to raise a family, unable to play a part in a modern democracy as fully engaged citizens.

“…without the strength of character, to choose their own future.” What I hope he is saying is that it is not just exam passes that are important outcomes of a good education. Schools equip students to face the world in more ways than can be measured by just GCSE grades and these outcomes will for many students determine how they progress in life.

This is a very subtle but important shift in the “all children can succeed and if they don’t then you must be a rubbish school” mantra, or at least in what classifies as “success”. I hope it wasn’t a slip of the tongue.

PS Is it just me or did the speech as whole read as a “I done my job here, teachers are now in charge of everything” valedictory.

Advertisements