Migrants have raised school standards in London, says Gove

Michael GoveImage copyright

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Michael Gove says refugee families can be the most motivated for their children’s education

Immigration has been a key reason behind London’s high achievement in school standards, the former education secretary Michael Gove has said.

Addressing an international education conference, Mr Gove highlighted the importance of immigrant and refugee families pushing up results.

He said migrant parents had “high expectations” for their children.

But Mr Gove, a leading campaigner for Brexit, said migration had also created “pressure on services”.

The capital’s schools have consistently outperformed the rest of England in exam results.

“There’s lots of evidence that London having become more diverse has contributed to educational standards rising,” Mr Gove told the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai.

He said that his own experience as a parent in London had shown him that migrant parents often have “extraordinarily high expectations” of the state school system.

Pupils might be “refugees from Somalia or Kosovo”, he said, but their families pushed schools to have high standards and often became the most involved parents.

He said it was “undeniably the case” that there were other parts of England which had lower levels of migration and lower educational performance.

But he said there were costs as well as benefits from migration.

“There have been rising class sizes and difficulty for some people getting their children into the school they wanted as new arrivals from other countries have made that more difficult.”

And he warned that high levels of migration could undermine “the sense of cohesion”.

Mr Gove, debating education policy alongside the former US education secretary Arne Duncan refused to be drawn on whether he agreed with the push for more grammar schools in England.

He said that the current education secretary would have to examine whether there was any evidence to justify such an expansion in selection.

Hyper successful

“The approach that one should take is not to be ideologically committed to any particular type of school but to ask ‘Does the evidence justify the creation of a particular type of school?’.

“And so, my commitment is to be open-minded about that.”

But he said that as a “very slavish backbencher” he would support the prime minister.

Mr Gove also warned of the dangers of a disconnect between a “global elite sealed off” from the rest of the population.

He said education systems risked paying too much attention to the “hyper successful”.

Mr Gove said that it was important to make sure that education policies worked for all parts of society, including those who felt left behind.

There were warnings about the direction of education policy under President Trump, from the former US education secretary Mr Duncan.

He said he was “extraordinarily troubled” by the approach of the new administration.

Mr Duncan criticised budget cuts for education and the lack of attention on standards for the majority of pupils in US state schools.

He warned against education policies that focused on “little things for political points”.

Migrants have raised school standards in London, says Gove}