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Ham-fisted praise for pig-weighers

HAS the maxim "you don't fatten a pig by weighing it" penetrated the corridors of the Office for Standards in Education?

It appears not, to judge by one of the most bizarre findings of a school inspection report in recent years.

Bridgeview special school, near Hull, was recently commended for, among other things, giving its pupils the chance to "gain a certificate in weighing pigs".

Headteacher Edward Sykes said the finding had been a genuine attempt to highlight the success of a farming course which offers pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties vocational experience.

But he confessed to some bemusement that the certificate itself had been praised.

"I was surprised - it's not something we have particularly pushed for the pupils," he said, with commendable understtement.

However, that response was nothing to the reaction at the local education authority, where councillors were by all accounts rolling in the aisles after reading the report, compiled by an inspection contractor.

The maxim - which suggests that you can't improve education by measuring it - is popular with critics of the Government's drive to quantify teachers' work.

Jim Whitfield, Labour spokesman for lifelong learning at East Riding council, said: "I think it's good that someone has picked up that this is what OFSTED is really concerned about.

"Teachers know plenty about the concept of attempting to measure every last aspect of their work.

"But now that the pig-weigher-in-chief has gone, will things remain the same under his successor?"

Warwick Mansell

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