NASUWT – Gove Vs Reality

Posted by on Apr 3, 2013 in Education
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We were delighted to be asked to help produce a video commissioned by the NASUWT to be shown at their 2013 conference.

Working with Andrew Bethell, formerly head of Teachers TV, we constructed an American election-style campaign video, testing the claims of Education Secretary Michael Gove against data from recent surveys and reports.

My main job was to source the archive clips to back up each part of the argument, so I could regularly be seen trotting back and forth from our production base to ITN to watch speech after speech of Michael Gove from their archive. I would have said it was a new and novel way to make a living, but actually, it’s something I’ve done quite a bit of before, in my previous job as Editor of Teachers TV News, so I experienced a bit of deja vu, though this time it was Michael Gove’s speeches I was watching, not Ed Balls’.

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It was interesting to watch how a politician hones his art, from Michael Gove’s early speeches in opposition, where he was quite positive about teachers, through to the latest aggressive attacks on “Trots” and “Marxists”, and the “if you’re not with me, you’re against me” type of rhetoric.

The best part of the job was attending the NASUWT conference in Bournemouth to watch the video being shown as part of General Secretary Chris Keates’s keynote speech. All the hairs on my arms stood up as the familiar music began, and when the audience gave a big laugh as Tom Watson shouted “You’re a miserable pipsqueak of a man, Gove!” I couldn’t have been more proud!
It’s given me just a tiny inkling of what it must be like to be a film director, with thousands of people watching and judging a piece of work that’s cost millions and taken months – ours was only six and a half minutes long and took just a few weeks to complete but it definitely gave me a taste of the experience, and I’d love to do more. However, once the screening was over, the hard work started.

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Andrew had created a website for those who wanted to see the data we’d used, so that people could visit and make up their own minds about whose argument was right. So, our next job was getting as many people as possible to watch it.
Hence some heavy duty tweeting on Easter Sunday. While others were munching their Easter eggs, I was in the press room at the BIC in Bournemouth, trying to get all the big hitters in the education world to watch our video.
Between us all, we managed to get retweets from Michael Rosen, Alastair Campbell, Dylan Wiliam, David Quantick and many many education journalists and teachers, which meant the link to our video passed in front of tens of thousands of eyes – again, a small hint of what it must be like when your video goes viral. We had some excellent feedback, and I really enjoyed the education policy banter which it inspired.

Two days later, and it’s still going strong, on its way to ten thousand views – see the video here or go to goveversusreality.com if you want to see the supporting evidence.