School’s head says Gove “is no Einstein.”

The headmaster of Wisbech Grammar School has criticised what he sees as the government's obsession with facts in its curriculum.

Speaking at the school's annual speech day on Friday, Nicholas Hammond referred to how the father of modern physics Albert Einstein had argued that imagination was more important than facts, but said the education secretary had demanded a core curriculum of facts.

Mr Hammond said: 'One of them is a genius who changed the course of the world. The other is Michael Gove.'

The headmaster argued that it would be better for Mr Gove and his colleagues to spend more time in schools and find out what made them tick, rather than using statistics alone to define what made a school good.

He said students were having to weather yet more initiatives imposed by well-meaning but ill-informed politicians, but added he was looking forward to seeing the new reforms to GCSE and A-Level examinations which have recently been announced and that he hoped these would lead to teachers being allowed to teach what was necessary and appropriate.


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Mr Hammond said: 'We remain committed to the education of minds, not simply the training of people who go on to succeed in examinations.

'We continue to teach traditional academic subjects such as single sciences and separate humanities and it is good to see that the educational world is coming back round to our way of thinking.'

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He also urged pupils to take inspiration from the words of the Norwegian explorer, Fridtjof Nansen, who said: 'The difficult is what takes a little time; the impossible is what takes a little longer.'

Mr Hammond also praised his students starting university courses this autumn and compared the challenge faced by upper sixth form students to the feat of licking their own elbows.

He said: 'This is a fantastic physical metaphor for the current challenge posed by our educational system. Our sixth formers have faced something akin to 'Mission: Impossible'.

'What is remarkable is that these young people have not only accepted the task, but have succeeded in it. They have climbed Mount Impossible and deserve to enjoy the view.'

The students had to achieve top grades and meet high university offers as well as being involved in a full range of activities outside the classroom.

Every other exam result at A-Level had been an A or an A*.

Mr Hammond said: 'They are faced with a seemingly never-ending treadmill of exams, the setting and marking of which should be subject to much needed scrutiny.

'They rely on a society which seems keener to vilify than to praise and they face an impossible task, far harder than the educational challenges that I was presented with at their age.'

The guest of honour for the speech day was the Bishop of Ely, the Rev Stephen Conway, who handed out school awards to students.

He told the students that it was important for them to look out for one another and not just be in competition for the best prizes and the best results.

He said: 'You should aim to be a mixed age community where people pull together in mutual friendship and responsibility.'

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