Are we Ofsted's stuffed turkeys?

11th December 2009 at 00:00

In T S Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral the fourth knight tries to exculpate himself by claiming that Archbishop Thomas Becket committed suicide while of unsound mind. In much the same way, Oftsed's Melanie Hunt would have us believe that tutors have come to love and value being inspected; 236 questions are not enough apparently, but they are now answering "others of their own devising" ("Ofsted's `236 questions' answer themselves", December 4).

Only Ofsted inspectors are surprised that what tutors say to them varies markedly from what they think. Ofsted now requires colleges to be permanently "inspection ready", just as turkeys now have to be "oven ready". But who apart from Ofsted inspectors would claim that turkeys enjoy being plucked and stuffed?

Ms Hunt did not answer one of my questions, and I only asked six: how much time and resources does Ofsted estimate colleges will need to be permanently in a position to answer its 236 questions? Can I have a reply, please?

Let's cut to the quick: the massive, costly superstructure of Ofsted now has a tiny problem to deal with - namely, the 6 per cent of "providers" considered to be unsatisfactory. Its huge resources would be better spent directly on improving teaching and learning.

Finally, why is inspecting so relatively well paid compared with poorly paid teaching?

Frank Coffield, Emeritus professor of education, Institute of Education, London University and visiting professor at the University of Sunderland.

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