Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Gove: 'I regret scrapping Building Schools for the Future'

Michael Gove

Former education secretary Michael Gove has admitted his 2010 ditching of Building Schools for the Future was one of his worst mistakes

Gove, now a backbench MP, abolished the £55 billion school-building programme, introduced by the previous Labour administration, shortly after the coalition government was formed in 2010.

Speaking on BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday (27 November), he said that his handling of the issue had been one of his worst mistakes in politics.

‘It was not so much that it was wrong to save public money. It was done in a crass and insensitive way and it taught me a lesson,’ he said.

Gove’s decision to halt BSF scuppered improvement plans for 719 schools.

He also alienated architects by claiming they had ‘creamed off cash’ from the programme and that the money spent on design would be better spent on ‘frontline services’.

Taking informal questions at a 2011 free schools conference, he said: ‘And we won’t be getting Richard Rogers to design your school; we won’t be getting any award-winning architects to design it; because no one in this room is here to make architects richer.’

The year before, he had been forced to apologise to the House of Commons over incorrect information in a list of which projects were affected, drawn up by the DfE.

But, interviewed by Marr, Gove said that experience had made him better at his job.

He said: ‘I remember David Davis came up to me at the end of what had been a very bruising experience for me in the House of Commons. He said: “Well you…” and he used an Anglo Saxon phrase, “but you will be a better minister for this because you learn from your mistakes”.’

Gove also called for more sympathy for politicians who make errors of judgement.

He told Marr: ‘There can sometimes be a football manager culture in politics, which mean that we are too quick to condemn someone when they make a mistake and too quick to call for their resignation, when the best learn from their errors and learn on the job.’


Readers' comments (7)

  • To paraphrase Bob Dylan: "Politicians seldom do what they believe in. They do whats convenient and then repent". Gove is an opportunist of the highest order. Soiled goods. This should not rehabilitate him.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Couldn't happen to a nicer Anglo Saxon phrase. I suppose I have you to thank for making me redundant and having to set up my own practice, but being on less than the living wage for three years and not being able to design schools for kids in needs really Anglo Saxon phrases me off. I will happily forgive politicians for their mistakes, but not you, you duplicitous Anglo Saxon phrase. Rot in your ignorant hell.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Michael Gove. Second rate journalist, third rate politician? When is he also going to apologise for the Brexit mess? We should have stayed in Europe and reformed it with Germany and Poland, instead of running away. In 10/15 years time we might be prosperous, but we will be floating around between the super powers of USA, Russia, Europe, China etc.

    And when did a country make such a radical change on a 52/48 vote? Another calamity handed to us by our third rate politicians, Cameron and Corbyn.

    All we can do is try and do the architecture and design to the best of our ability, whether it's housing, schools, hospitals, houses or infrastructure?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • No thanks to you M. Gove, you were responsible for my redundancy and all the odd things that follow. Most painfully is all the kids you denied of the priviledge to learn in a wonderful 21st century classroom, you put a grit in the engine of innovation of the construction industry - you were nothing but a cog in the wheel. I hope no forward looking persons relies on your instinct going forward! - however just because you have come forward to apologise, you're forgiven but the scars will always be there to remember you!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • '.....done in a crass and insensitive way...' yes indeed, by an arrogant and authoritarian know-all, unfortunately not the only one in Westminster.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Thank you Terry Pinto for making me smile.

    I'm happy (well, less unhappy) to give politicians sympathy for their errors of judgment if they do their utmost to undo the harm they've done once they've seen the error of their ways. Gove may no longer be a minister but he's still an MP, unlike some of the others who Anglo Saxon phrased off, leaving others to clear up their mess. Has he mentioned his error of judgment in the House, or only on TV?

    Meanwhile, while I agree with Michael Farmery and wait for Gove and the others to see their errors of judgement on Brexit, I would point out that Corbyn's hands are pretty clean on this. It was Jack Straw (by his own admission, on a Radio 4 profile on Michel Barnier, Eurocrat in charge of Brexit, on 27th Nov) who made Labour promise to hold a referendum.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Judith, Corbyn's hands are clean because he did nothing! He was as absent then as Cameron is now.

    And not only did Gove stop BSF, he also heaped a load of unnecessary work on teachers, form filling, and grammar school grammar on primary children, that is way beyond all but the brightest. And marking all English and Maths books every night. You try marking 60 books every night, running after school clubs and setting the next day's lessons. And you thought architects worked all hours Godsend!

    Which I used to do before being made redundant by that little prigg. At least bring back Spitting Image and let's have a good laugh?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs

Discover architecture career opportunities. Search and apply online for your dream job.
Find out more