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.’