It’s vital to fight fake news, education secretary Damian Hinds said in a recent press release.
He’s right. ‘Since ancient times, propagandists have sought to manipulate the truth,’ he said. And social media means untruths can spread and take hold more quickly.
‘What starts as disinformation – deliberate falsification – gets replicated through misinformation – stating or passing on something that you believe to be true but isn’t.’
Again, Hinds is absolutely correct. His words, however, are undermined by the propaganda which has been published by the Department for Education. This isn’t particularly new, of course, deception about academies has been going on since they were first started under Labour. But it reached new heights post-2010.
It’s not just the misleading hype surrounding academies and free schools or the deliberate spreading of the ‘plummeting down league tables in a decade’ myth. It’s citing ‘evidence’ which only confirms ministerial prejudices. Much of this is cited out of context, ignores contradictory evidence and brushes aside warnings about using the data. It’s also repeated ad nauseam.
Time and again the UK Statistics Authority has expressed concern about how the DfE uses data. Time and again ministers and the DfE media department have thumbed their noses at the watchdog. Time and again the robotic DfE spokesperson has regurgitated the same misleading soundbites about academies (always better than ‘council run’ schools), primary school literacy and numeracy results and the nearly two million more pupils in good or better schools since 2010.
And time and again this site has called the DfE to account, exposing the misinformation and linking to evidence which debunks it.
Readers will note that the only link in this article is to the DfE press release citing Damian Hinds. That’s because examples are too numerous to give. Readers wishing to dig deeper should use the search facility above. Try terms such as UKSA, academies, PISA, Michael Gove, phonics, Nick Gibb, PIRLS, any other minister, mastery…
CORRECTION 18 July 13.29: 'as' in '...thumbed their noses as the watchdog' corrected to 'at'.