What connects Michael Gove, a closed Liverpool school and notorious Bright Tribe trust?

Janet Downs's picture

Michael Gove’s bid to become the next prime minister began with contemplating the fickle nature of fate.  What would have happened to him if chance had sent him to a failing school, he pondered.  A school like one in 2007 where he said only one pupil attained five good GCSEs including English and maths.(See update below explaining why the 'one percent' in the original article has been changed to 'one')

The school, not named on this occasion, was likely to be Parklands High School, a new school opened in 2002 under a £27m PFI contract in Speke.  Gove cited a Liverpool school with such poor GCSE results before. (On that occasion it was 1%, see update).  

Parkland's second inspection in April 2008 downgraded it from ‘adequate’* to ‘inadequate’.    The first monitoring inspection (October 2008) showed the proportion of pupils gaining five or more A*-C grades including English and maths had risen from 1% in 2007 to 15%.  Still low, but a definite improvement on 1%.

Two full inspections, in 2010 and 2012, judged Parklands to be satisfactory.  Inspectors noted that Parkland’s roll was falling.   Nevertheless, the ‘improving’ school was deemed ripe for conversion.  The chosen sponsor for Parklands was Bright Tribe, the trust which would be exposed by Panorama in late 2018.

 In December 2013 Parklands was placed in special measures.  The number of pupils had fallen further and the school closed in 2014 despite parents appealing against closure.

Under the PFI contract, Liverpool council has to pay for the unused school at a rate of £12k a day until 2028.

The company receiving this money is Education Solutions Speke whose directors include Alfred Michael Dwan.  Two of Dwan’s other companies, Adventure Learning Schools and Helping Hands Trust Limited, were members of Bright Tribe until July 2018.

We have a situation, then, where one school with very poor exam results in 2007 was referenced twelve years later in a bid to become prime minister.  This school, judged to be improving in 2010 and 2012, was lined up to be sponsored by a trust connected to the company holding the school’s PFI contract.   Possible conflicts of interest in this arrangement appeared not to have bothered the education secretary at the time – Michael Gove.


 ADDENDUM:  In July 2018, FE Week reported how Bright Tribe was allowed to open Greater Manchester UTC in 2013 despite warnings it was not viable.  Bright Tribe was also given a £300k grant to develop the project.  This, again, was when Gove was education secretary.  The UTC received a £221k bail out before closing in 2017.   Not one pupil attained grade A*-C in both English and Maths in 2016.  There was no need for Gove to go back to 2007 for an example of a school with poor exam results.  He could have highlighted two schools with even worse results opened under his watch: Greater Manchester UTC and Route 39.


UPDATE; 13 June 08.56.  Agov has sent me a link (see comment below) which shows Gove said one pupil not 1% or none.  I have corrected the article.  I have also added 'likely' to my revelation that Parklands was the school he was referring to. My hunch that it was Parklands was because the Daily Mail in April 2010 (before the 2010 election) wrote that Gove cited ' a school in Liverpool, where only one percent of pupils passed five GCSEs including English and maths'. 

UPDATE 13 June 09.36:  In 2013, Gove wrote an article in which he said, 'One particular [school] caught my eye.  A comprehensive on Mersyeside where just 1 per cent of the children had managed to get five C passes at GCSE, including English and maths'.  Much of the content of this article and the earlier one in the Daily Mail was regurgitated in Gove's leadership bid speech.



*In 2004, grade 3 schools were judged adequate.  This subsequently became satisfactory before being recalibrated as requires Improvement.

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agov's picture
Thu, 13/06/2019 - 08:22

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 13/06/2019 - 09:26

agov - many thanks for the link.  I've amended the article.

On a separate point (sorry to bring up fishing again), but the 2010 Daily Mail article I reference above said: 'his father's business collapsed owing to diminishing fish stocks and under the weight of every-increasing EU regulations'.  Gove seems to have forgotten the first cause.

Thanks again for the link.


agov's picture
Fri, 14/06/2019 - 13:41

That's OK, I like fish. With chips*. The type of fish we used to be allowed to buy before being confined to a choice between boring unappetizing cod and tiresome unappealing cod. Just think, should we acquire a Prime Minister that doesn't spend three years lying, deceiving and betraying, we might regain access to the other 70-80% of British fish stocks the EU gave itself and again have choices. [Of course, I do realise that some establishments in London (maybe elsewhere as well) still sell the full range that was formerly generally available.]

Your quote does not really advance our previous discussion about an article which elicited this response: “I don’t know what this reporter is going on about,” Ernest Gove added in a statement. “Everybody in the north-east knows it was Europe that did such damage to the fish trade."

Not sure who you may suppose says the North Sea was not overfished. Imagine what might be achieved should we restore British control of British waters and institute sensible policies to benefit fish stocks rather than job opportunities for EU bureaucracies and their misruling elites.

* Plus of course the type appropriate with salads.

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 15/06/2019 - 08:49

agov - I thought you weren't going to take the bait but here we are again fishing around for quotes that will fillet each other.  

However (and here I am wading in), your quote from Gove's poor old dad, dragged into the net by his son constantly harping on about his background, is rather trumped by this from well-known trawlerman John Buchan, star of the BBC programme Trawlermen and seventh generation fisherman:

'Over the years I've been critical of the CFP (Common  Fisheries Policy) as the next man.  It's deeply flawed and at times it's made life extremely difficult  for all of us trying to earn a living from the sea.  But every fisherman knows, if we're honest, that the CFP isn't to blame for all the changes and challenges we've experienced in the industry.'

Buchan's opinions are worth reading in full especially the warning that EU restrictions on 'third countries' which could come into place if the UK leaves 'the single market and customs union instead of seeking a Norwegian style deal' would risk 'a massive own goal.' 

PS:  According to WikipediaJohn Buchan won an award from Seafood Scotland in recognition for supplying UK fish and chip shops with top quality, responsibly caught fish.  Like you, I also love fish and chips so perhaps we've both eaten fish caught by him.

Apologies for battering you with fishy puns.  I hope they were greeted by loud groans.


agov's picture
Sat, 15/06/2019 - 12:12

"dragged into the net by his son"

Or by a shameless Guardian story writer "who tried to put words into [the] mouth” of a 79-year old-man.

"well-known trawlerman John Buchan"

That would be the one you already cited on the 30 May. Nothing fishy about your memory I trust? But my comment then remains just as appropriate for your restatement of the same point: "Thus not in any way denying the role played by the CFP with its allocation of 70-80% of catches from British waters to other bits of the EU."

"EU restrictions on 'third countries' which could come into place if the UK leaves"

Love and obey us or we will destroy you! Much like the mafia and other gangs of vicious organised criminals who so benefit from the German Empire Mk IV that some are so devoted. What a wonderful club to pay so much to be controlled by.

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 13/06/2019 - 09:32

You wait ages for a link to appear and then two come at once.  Here's a transcript of Gove's speech.

John Mountford's picture
Thu, 13/06/2019 - 11:11

What the hell is going on in this country under the stewardship of people like Gove. They can do as they like, say what they like and behave badly and still stand up in public and proclaim they are fit to govern. The awful tragedy is that he is just one of many who abuse their privilege and power and are seeking office.

Surely, Janet, this story is another glaring example of the harm being done to our children's education under the relentless drive to create an education 'free market'. The last statement also compounding the harm - IT ISN'T FREE!! All this dreadful waste is costing and no one in authority seems to give a s ___!! The country is being ripped off and in a fully functioning democracy this would not be allowed.

To think that this man is a front-runner to become the next PM is breathtaking in its ridiculousness. Why are we not preparing for a general election now that the Conservatives have cocked up the negotiations to leave the EU? What on earth convinces anyone that a failed party in a failed parliament is able to sort out this mess? At least if we had a general election it would get rid of much of the dead wood in parliament. It would force all the parties to set out how they would take the country forward at the same time as putting a stop to the idea that allowing a tiny bunch of voters (Conservative clones) be allowed to decide who will be given the chance to lead our country at this time.

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