However, his stance on 'authorised absence' from schools during term time is - to be brutally honest - utter crap.
It's taken me a while to get all frothy over this, except on Twitter, but it's so wrong-headed that it's an impossibility to ignore.
Playing to the Mail gallery, he cites truancy rates and - absurdly - prison and young offender stats. Err, is there anything less likely to increase truancy/absence than state banning of something parents feel is perfectly manageable? The kids will just mysteriously become 'ill'.
As for the the likelihood of kids being taken on holiday contributing to the prison population, we're into the strange realm of government statistical analysis being twisted to suit policy. Yes, I'm sure there is a correlation between high rates of truancy and future offending. How much of that is down to the annual family holiday as opposed to persistent non-attendance though is, I expect, negligible. Gove is pulling the old political trick of comparing apples with oranges.
He seems to be wandering firmly into Guardian territory, as referred to here last March.
Once again, we see two supposedly diverse political viewpoints coming together to view state education as some utopian ideal which can't ever be replaced. Even for a couple of weeks.
Schools have a total of 38 weeks with our children, much of which is taken up by execrably useless subjects such as PSHE and nagging about lifestyle choices, sex education, and bloody environmentalism. This is without mentioning mufti days at the behest of professional charity fund-raisers, childhood damaging health and safety hysteria, politically-correct nonsense, and other fripperies that have no place whatsoever being taught by the government.
I'd fully expect a socialist - wedded to the idea that the state is all-knowing with regards teaching kids, and that the parent shouldn't be allowed to interfere - to advance such a policy. But this is a Tory.
It's yet another example of a creep to the left from Cameron's drones. Whether he realises it or not, Gove is advocating the state to be the sole arbiter of children's education; that they are the only ones who are able to supply it; that parents are universally incompetent; and that kids are incapable of 'catching up' like adults are expected to after taking the EU mandated 5.6 weeks paid holiday time (which I'd personally much prefer his government devote its time investigating).
It's nonsense, of course. Firstly, state education simply isn't that good. There is ample leeway for catching up, simply for the fact that so much time is wasted on pet government idiocy which has no place in schools at all, as I've said before.
As I see it, they would learn almost as much with me on the flight to and from a week's holiday than they get from 5 days at school. Make the state school system better - or even fit for purpose if they're feeling saucy - and parents might consider it unmissable. Or, alternatively, give us the £3,780 per annum this 'service' costs; allow us to spend it with the school which competes and therefore educates most effectively; and watch how more valued the 190 school days become to parents.You'd have thought a Tory would try to sort that out first, before pretending that the quality of 5% of a yearly education - which is taken up by at least 10% irrelevance - is indispensable.
That's the theoretical problems covered, so let's talk about the practicalities and unavoidable unintended consequences.
What is Gove planning to do when 'sickness' absences rise dramatically, which is the only fully predictable outcome, especially since mobile phones now mean a parent can call a child in sick from bloody Goa if they choose?
Monitoring of movement? Mandatory child check ups to prove the sickness has occurred? Home visits by state inspectors to ensure the family hasn't done a moonlight flit? Investigations into where calls are made from? You know, the sort of thing Conservatives used to accused Labour of.
Or, how about if this has nothing but a negative impact which he can't tackle even by illiberal means such as those above? What then? Well, the only other option is regulation to stop holiday companies from charging extra for school holiday times or, more likely for a Tory-led government, forcing them to charge more for trips taken during term time.
For a Tory to point to problems caused by the simple economic principle of supply and demand is pretty self-defeating, and for him to suggest installing illiberal legislation as a result just compounds it.
The end result of Gove's posturing as to the indispensability of state education - and the subtle assertion that parents are incapable of even a modicum of offering the same themselves - can be seen in Sweden, where the condemnation of parents who don't view state provision as perfect is so far advanced that families who home school are fleeing the country.
As the government intensifies its persecution of homeschoolers in Sweden, the president of the Swedish Association for Home Education (ROHUS) has finally been forced into exile with his family in neighboring Finland. The battle for human rights and homeschooling in the Scandinavian kingdom, however, is far from over.When you boil it all down, this is the end destination for Gove's policy. The state's inalienable right to educating kids over and above any ability of parents to decide marginal benefits/drawbacks of missing out on a week or two - or even more if they see fit - for themselves.
The Swedish Parliament passed a draconian law in 2010 purporting to ban homeschooling, all school curriculums except the Swedish government’s, and all alternative education nationwide. Despite a global outcry, the prohibition went into effect last year. Dozens of families were left wondering what fate might await them. But so far, the official persecution campaign has backfired in a stunning way.
If he wants to tackle truancy, tackle truancy - not authorised absence which has little to do with it. If he wants parents to have more respect for state education (just like the left), then stop schools from filling the curriculum with state-mandated garbage which parents don't respect. It's arguable that government interference into how schools operate - and the pet projects they are obliged to teach - is far, far more damaging to the education of our kids than being taken on holiday for two weeks a year.
Sort that out first, Gove, and you might be onto something.