To succeed, government must be willing to fail

Ruth Porter writes for The Daily Telegraph

Emerson once wrote that "the world belongs to the energetic”, but this is only partly true. Energy is a prerequisite, but the vital attribute is courage. Facing up to failure, embracing the possibility of things not working out as planned and having the confidence to see them through in spite of everything, is something noble to aspire to.

The key events of 2011 were not foreseen – the summer riots, the Arab Spring, the passing of Kim Jong-il, earthquakes – and predictions for 2012 will no doubt prove equally incomplete. The question of what the eurozone will look like in 12 months time is one of the most pressing uncertainties.

At times like these, we need courage. The entrepreneurial spirit is to risk all for success. If we are to succeed, we must be willing to fail. This is a lesson the government needs to learn.

Michael Gove’s education reforms are marvellous in many ways, but as anyone who has looked at how to boost performance will tell you, the key is not just new schools entering the market, but bad ones leaving it - or at least learning rapidly from the good ones because they know they will fail if they do not. We need to open up the possibility of exit, to see many failing schools shut down. Access to a decent education, especially for those from the poorest bac