Even the academies that suffered from the national dip in results stand out as beacons of success. Eastbourne Academy's success rate fell by 9 per cent this year, but the number of pupils obtaining five good GCSEs including English and maths increased by 20 per cent. Staff at the Ark chain of schools, which came in for criticism when it was revealed that four of its schools' GCSE results have fallen this year, can still hold their heads high: the average annual increase in pupils achieving five good GCSEs including English and maths at their schools remains at an impressive 6.5 per cent.
Despite 55 new free schools opening last month, complete with academy freedoms, the news that two free schools didn't open was seized on by left-wing commentators as proof that they were located in areas where there was no need for them. In fact at least 79 per cent of the free schools that opened in 2011 are oversubscribed, with one of them, the West London Free School, attracting about nine applicants for every place. Unpopularity is not something most free schools have to worry about. Yet critics still seize on isolated incidents; the very idea of establishing new academies and free schools is still condemned by the unions who fear the freedom these institutions have to write their own teacher contracts.
The unions' hatred of Michael Gove is very real, bordering on the psychotic. He was described as an "evil entity" at the NUT conference this year, and as waging a "vicious and unjustified assault on teachers". Last year I witnessed this hysterical hatred at an education conference which ended with Patrick Roach, the deputy general secretary of NASUWT, declaring that Gove was guilty of "crimes against humanity".
The tragedy is that these militants claim to speak for all those who champion the many successful maintained comprehensives in England. At union conferences delegates calling for a more moderate approach have been heckled and their words have been ignored. The fact that only 27 per cent of members participated in last month's vote suggests that most are not as radical as their leaders' rhetoric suggests.
The latest union demands include further limits on how long teachers can be observed in the classroom (the current limit is three hours a year), a reduction in Ofsted inspections and a halt to the government's plan to introduce a form of performance-based pay. Each of these demands is a self-evident blow against accountability and meritocracy in the teaching profession and a defence of failure and mediocrity.
- ONLINE ONLY: Thoughts from a Hospital Bed
- ONLINE ONLY: Academic Boycotts Teach Us Nothing
- ONLINE ONLY: Send in the Clowns
- ONLINE ONLY: Thatcher, Reagan and the Dictators
- The Resolute Courage of Margaret Thatcher
- America's New Isolationists Are Endangering the West
- An Alternative To Our Reckless Energy Gamble
- The Family is the Key to the Future of Faith
- Persecuted Muslims Who Love Life in England
- They Were the Future of the Tory Party, Once
- The Parable of the Stupid Samaritan
- Pope Frank: In the Footsteps of St Francis
- The Middle Kingdom's Problem with Religion
- We Abandon Christians in the East At Our Peril
- Feminism Or Islamism: Which Side Are You On?
- At Last: Gove Goes For the Culture of Excuses
- Is There a Way Out of the Tories' Modernising Mess?
- Online Only: The Kenyatta Dilemma
- Cameron is the Euro's Best Hope for Survival
- Census That Revealed a Troubling Future