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Abolish 'out of tune' Ofsted

A dozen inspectors should monitor standards in English schools instead of the 2,500-strong Office for Standards in Education, a teaching union is due to be told next week.

There is no need for Ofsted when local authorities can evaluate the work of schools, according to Phil Baker, who has tabled a motion at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' conference in Torquay.

"All you need is a small team of 12 or 14 inspectors going round the different authorities," said the Swindon branch secretary. He wants to abolish Ofsted despite its new shorter inspection regime, and said: "The whole methodology is still out of tune with modern ways of evaluating performance."

One ATL member had been observed by five people in three weeks, said Mr Baker, who wants teachers to be observed no more than three times a year unless they are under capability proceedings or give permission.

Delegates are also likely to discuss a call for national tests to be abolished for 14-year-olds. Other debates will include how to improve pupil behaviour and whether to take industrial action over changes to teachers'

pensions.

Ruth Kelly is due to address the conference on Wednesday and the Education Secretary will be hoping for a better reception than she had from the Secondary Heads Association earlier this month.

The ATL is traditionally the most moderate of the three main classroom teacher unions, but the Government is unlikely to escape criticism. In his speech the same day, Brian Waggett ATL president, is expected to describe policies that encourage schools to compete for pupils as "barmy".

"Our objection to the competition policy is not ideological, but pragmatic," he will say. "It doesn't work."

Hank Roberts, ATL London executive member, has proposed a motion saying that social partnership with Government cannot be "meaningfully maintained" if it continues to act against fundamental ATL policies.

He cited its rejection of the Tomlinson report, continuing privatisation and the "attack" on pensions as examples. The latter is the only new issue on which delegates will be asked to consider industrial action.

A set of national standards of acceptable pupil behaviour, recognising that "Every Teacher Matters", will be called for by Alan Bellchambers.

He said: "You have so many agencies looking after the child's rights but somewhere along the way I think we have forgotten the staff. Poor pupil behaviour is one of the biggest reasons for teachers leaving the profession and they need to be protected from it."

Asked how the standards would be enforced, the maths teacher from Plume school, Essex, suggested a national bank of work- sheets so that pupils could be taught in isolation.

* william.stewart@tes.co.uk

Peter Wilby 23

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