Lies, damned lies, and statistics

Gove is gone, but I believe it is acceptable at the very least to toe-poke such a man when he is down…..

Amongst the many deceits from Gove regarding his shaping of the new GCSE English syllabi to be taught from 2015 was the assertion that he had consulted over 151 professionals to inform this [see the document INDIVIDUALS CONSULTED IN THE PROCESS OF DRAWING UP THE DRAFT PROGRAMMES OF STUDY FOR THE NEW NATIONAL CURRICULUM, if you want to check].

I have it on good authority from someone who makes it a living to investigate this kind of politician’s assertion, that the claim is a significant porky pie. On the list referenced above there are indeed about 151 names, but to be precise from the start, these were for all subjects out for this consultation, and of these, 45+ are attributed to having been consulted on the English Language/Literature proposals at that time. Impressive statistics overall – if they were honestly calculated from the start, or any of them true.

I had been informed that the bulk of the names on that list actually applied to individuals who had merely attended nationally organised conferences on the proposals in general. So their names appeared on an attendance list. They went along. Had some coffee. Listened. Perhaps had lunch [I don’t know the timetables for the day]. Went home.

I decided to check this out to the best of my ability and made contact with one of those named people on the English list, a highly regarded teacher of and writer on English, and he confirmed that he had indeed attended one such conference. Consulted? Not a chance. He went along. Had coffee. Perhaps had lunch. And so on. I believe that the singular biggest ‘consultant’ and influence on the supporting of Gove’s ideas was Janet Brennan, former HMI with key experience in Primary education [and then an independent consultant for these Secondary education proposals].

Admitted, that’s just one actual verified statistic against the 151, give or take a few, unverified by Gove. Whilst bound to trust my own, I leave it to your judgement where you think the most likely truth lies [oh, the cleverclogs of it all].

As to Lies, damned lies, and statistics: no doubt Gove would like to attribute this famous quote – if he had to – to his British Tory chum Disraeli [though that has apparently never been possible to find and thus prove] rather than that pesky American author Mark Twain who popularised it.

2 thoughts on “Lies, damned lies, and statistics

  1. Mike, whilst I in no way would wish you to refrain from toe-poking smarmy Gove – a Glesca’ Kiss would fit equally well!!! – equal metaphorical or actual violence could be directed towards the career civil srevants from within the DfE at the time of Gove’s reign who are just as culpable in the dissemination of lies and half-truths on Gove’s behalf. In fact, I suspect that one, some or all of them conspired to articulate Gove’s desired outcome prior to, and in the absence of, any actual ‘consultation’. It’s the old…..”Here’s the outcome I want, now find a plausible rationale for public consumption.” I have witnessed such an approach first-hand, on many occasions. The ‘politically neutral’ English Civil Service will whore itself to its political masters of whatever hue!!!


    • I didn’t know how euphemistic I needed to be about my feelings of violence towards the man, but your candour puts my hesitation to shame!! And you are surely right about the rest of them. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Agree with everything you say.


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