University College School pupils react to Michael Gove comment: ‘Highgate School is the Arsenal to UCS’s Spurs’

13:28 28 February 2014

Education secretary Michael Gove.

Education secretary Michael Gove.


Pupils at top independent secondary University College School have been left outraged by disparaging comments made by education secretary Michael Gove about the school in Frognal, Hampstead. Following the comments, the Ham&High is publishing an article written by UCS pupils in school magazine The Compass in reaction to Mr Gove’s speech.

The Government’s Education Secretary Michael Gove has caused outrage amongst UCS students by claiming his preference for the nearby Highgate School.

Speaking to pupils of UCS’s arch rival in a speech alongside prominent businessman Philip Green, Mr. Gove said: “Highgate is the Arsenal to UCS’s Tottenham Hotspur.”

According to the London Evening Standard, the politician went on to explain that this meant Highgate had the upper hand in the long rivalry between the two schools.

Mr. Gove added: “UCS might think it’s special but it’s the glittering prizes that go to Highgate. I can tell I’ve just lost about half the audience — but the right half to lose.”

It is thought that the Conservative minister made the comments in order to slight his Labour counterpart Tristram Hunt, who studied for his A-Levels at UCS, as well as for trying to gain the support of students and staff at Highgate School.

The football-based trope can be interpreted to suggest that Highgate boasts a more successful history than UCS, in addition to having a better set of recent results. Yet the latter allegation appears to contradict recent GCSE performances.

Year Eleven student Sam Cowling said: “I think it’s a shame that Highgate can’t perform in the same way as Arsenal when it comes to the league tables, but it’s nice that Mr. Gove wants to give them credit for taking part.”

Whilst Mr. Gove’s remarks may have been made in jest, they have clearly disgruntled those associated with the Hampstead school.

Fellow UCS pupil Alex Kriss added: “There is no argument or fact behind his claim. He cannot reach a conclusion about the two schools without conducting in-depth research, and he seems to be attempting to give UCS a bad name for no reason.”

The Surrey Heath MP is no stranger to controversy after his proposals for reforming the A-Level and GCSE programme received widespread criticism from experts.

Likewise, Mr. Gove also has a track record for entering historical disputes after saying that the “aggressive expansionism” of German leaders should not be forgotten when considering the causes of the First World War.

In a curious revelation, The Compass has learnt that Michael Gove is in fact a season-ticket holder at Chelsea Football Club.


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