More to Education Than Ofsted Inspections

The Birmingham Post (England), November 9, 1998 | Go to article overview

More to Education Than Ofsted Inspections


Sir, - Chief schools inspector Mr Chris Woodhead's instant dismissal of the criticisms of Ofsted's school inspections was depressingly predictable.

This should come as no surprise as constant criticism of the teaching profession and a blind spot to the obvious deficiencies in the current inspection arrangements, help to keep him and his fellow inspectors in a job, ie he has to justify his existence and the accompanying fat cat salary/salaries.

No one is arguing that schools should not be accountable. It is the nature of that accountability which is being questioned, and rightly so.

The present system is coercive by nature, hugely disruptive, bureaucratic, costly and undermines teacher morale.

Furthermore, the imposition of even more central government control - 'control freaks' seem to be in vogue - will result in a bland uniformity in our schools.

Creativity, diversity and choice, let alone high standards, could become the sole prerogative of the independent/private sector. That would be a tragedy.

There is far more to education than Ofsted inspections, league tables and test results.

Not all the components which make up value added and quality can or should be measured.

A love of music, a love of literature, an enthusiasm for sport, a love of nature, beauty, an appreciation of religious/ethical values, friendship and the value of community, are some of the characteristics which would be evidenced in a good school. Educa tion is, after all, for life.

Mr Blunkett and his New Labour team appear to be more interested in maintaining the high ground for narrow partisan reasons, rather than doing what is in the best interest of our nation's children.

Many an experienced classroom teacher will readily admit that "the fun has gone out of teaching." That is a very sad state of affairs.

As a local teachers' spokesman has said: "If we are not careful we are going to end up with a regime in schools which is just a testing regime like in Russia."

Politicians don't teach children, Mr Chris Woodhead and his large army of inspectors don't teach children, bureaucrats don't teach children, headteachers may or may not teach children, but class teachers do teach children.

It is an irony, but also a scandal, that the people who actually do the teaching seem to have the least say when it comes to education policy-making.

The overwhelming majority of teachers are wholly committed to giving their children/young people the very best start in life.

But in order to fulfil potential a very real partnership is necessary between the child/young person, the home and the school.

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