Michael Gove
Michael Gove's controversy-filled time as education secretary led to him being removed from the post, and appointed chief whipReuters

You know it's been an unusual week in politics when real-life events outdo the drama of the Game of Thrones season finale. It's been a long week of resignations, betrayals and recriminations on both sides and it's showing no sign of slowing down. Yesterday, my phone was buzzing with messages about Boris Johnson withdrawing from the Conservative leadership contest following the news that his Leave campaign ally Michael Gove is going to stand.

There is general agreement among those who have interviewed or worked with Gove that he's hands-down the politest politician you'll ever meet. Charming and well-mannered, the sort you could introduce to your mum – well not to my mum, she can't stand him, but that's beside the point.

His party like him; and opinion polls, for what they're still worth, show that he is popular with middle class, true-blue voters. Polite he may well be but he is also pro capital punishment, hugely Eurosceptic and incredibly calculating. In less than two weeks he's gone from standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Johnson to undermining his colleague's chances of leadership by publicly denouncing him: "I have come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead."

I too have come to a conclusion today: this well-mannered Machiavellian cannot be our next prime minister.

Gove became education secretary in May 2010 – the same month that I accepted my first teaching job in a primary school in north London – so it's no surprise that I've followed his career with interest. If his legacy as education secretary is indicative of his ability to run the country, then we all have reason to be worried. Allow me, if you will, to take you through the controversial headlines of the Gove era.

He wasted no time and began his reign with the unlawful scrapping of the Building Schools for the Future projects, without any consultation. Following the 2012 Olympics, Gove relaxed the government regulations on the minimum requirement of outdoor space a school should have in order to sell off school playing fields – 10 of which he did not feel the need to declare.

Against all better advice, he relentlessly pursued the unnecessary and, often unwanted, free schools and academies programme while at the same time failing to address the school place crisis. He opened the door for the appointment of unqualified teachers in schools, while simultaneously creating a teacher shortage leaving schools with few other options.

Schools suffered years of endless, ill-thought out reforms to the curriculum and examinations, a prime example being the KS1 Phonics Screening in which six-year-olds are tested on their ability to read "non-words" before they are old enough to read real ones.

Sadly, the damage Gove did wasn't contained to the classroom. He eroded the public's trust and confidence in the teaching profession by smearing our reputation in the media and calling us names – notably "the blob", "enemies of promise" and "bigots with low expectations". Most insulting of all, is his claim that these reforms helped address inequality and "drove up standards" when in fact they did the exact opposite.

Our education system is now at breaking point and thousands of teachers are walking away from the profession altogether – myself included. My favourite anecdote from the Gove years comes from a teacher who was asked by a pupil: "Is Michael Gove actually real?" To this 11-year-old Gove appeared like a villainous character from a story rather than a real person in charge of education. This is Gove's legacy.

As education minister Gove showed himself to be at best, incompetent, and at worst a ruthless ideologue. The thought of him becoming our next prime Mminister is quite simply chilling.


Zoe is a freelance writer and assistant head teacher. You can find her on @zbrownie