Inspectors answer the call of the eunuch

7th November 1997, 12:00am

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Inspectors answer the call of the eunuch

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/inspectors-answer-call-eunuch
The Edinburgh conference on quality in education mounted by the city council and The TES Scotland was notable not just for the number of inspectors who attended ("Standards in schools must be okay if they can all afford to come here," one delegate remarked). It also left them in danger of emasculation.

Chris Woodhead, head of Office for Standards in Education south of the border, appeared to leave his ogre image at home, at least in the view of those consulted by Jotter in the usual scientific manner. Graham Donaldson, number two in the Scottish inspectorate, who chaired Woodhead's session in the absence of his Scottish opposite number, paid the English visitor the ultimate tribute, observing that "a few years ago few people would have been able to name the head of the English inspectorate - or perhaps even the Scottish inspectorate".

But Donaldson did not get where he is today without being quick on his feet, not to mention loyal in his seat. "In neither case," he declared, "is that true today." So no ...se-majeste there.

Woodhead, contrary to public perceptions, likes to pay teachers the occasional tribute even if it is at HMIs' expense. He suggested that inspectors resembled George Steiner's view of literary critics - eunuchs when set beside creative writers. In the world of education, HMI had much the same role, Woodhead joked to the inevitably appreciative titter. Donaldson duly thanked his opposite number "as one eunuch to another".

Later another speaker offered his services. Stuart Macpherson, associate postgraduate dean of medicine at Glasgow University, pointed out that he is also a surgeon.

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