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Ofsted: rude to show up unannounced?

The current government has a track record of extending surveillance wherever opportunity arises: CCTV in public places, storing all emails, phonecalls, and so on.

The pilot Ofsted visits are potentially a stroke of genius that put an inspector in every class, every lesson. How so? Michel Foucault put forward a powerful case for the potential impact of Bentham's prison design - the Panopticon - on prisoners.

By making prisoners fear that they are constantly watched, they begin to put themselves under self-surveillance. Prisoners are then on best behaviour all of the time just in case they are being watched, even though much, or all, of the time they are not.

By making inspections blind, teachers will never be able to relax, write short versions of lesson plans, or deviate from government diktat just in case someone appears to watch them unannounced.

The self-evaluation form turned senior leaders into in-house Ofsted teams.

This move will ensure that every teacher is their own Ofsted inspector. A Big Brother system of remote management and surveillance is now very much on the horizon.

Dr Phil Wood, Lecturer in geographical education, School of Education, Leicester University.

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