Let's face it, Mr Gove's cunning plan to sack 1000 of his Department's staff is probably not Maoist in intent, though it is in terms of zeal. He is unlikely to have thought to himself one morning over his organic, fairly-traded, salt-free porridge ...
"Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the sciences and a flourishing socialist culture in our land."
... as Mao did in 1957 in an invitation to intellectuals to criticise the political system – though criticism there has certainly been of Gove's decision. It is, of course, consistent in a rough and ready sort of fashion with his desire to roll back the state's role in education by "freeing up" schools for local decision-making, especially on the curriculum. A DfE spokesperson is quoted as saying:
"We conducted a review to make sure we have the capability to deliver well-designed policies that have a real, measurable impact on the children and young people who need it most, while minimising costs to the taxpayer. The review found that the DfE has committed and hard-working staff producing high quality work, but that the department can and should work more effectively and efficiently. Over the coming months we will target our staff time and money on only our top priorities, cutting red tape and concentrating on the work that adds the most value. We are reducing the size of our backroom staff and merging offices to reduce the cost of our buildings. The DfE had already committed to reducing its administrative budget in real terms by 42 per cent from 2010/11 to 2014/15. Following the review, our target is a 50 per cent reduction to £290m by 2015/16 and we have already achieved over half of these savings."
Indeed. However, none of this will ensure a curriculum that takes our existential dilemmas seriously. In relation to which, I am told that Mr Gove is reading all the proposals for the revised national curriculum – word by word.