Ask those at the chalkface about morale, not the headteachers

18th October 1996 at 01:00
I was very interested in the article by Chris Woodhead defending the record of the Office for Standards in Education.

If 82 per cent of heads who took part in the survey represented all the heads whose schools have actually been inspected, then nearly 20 per cent do not share the favourable view of OFSTED. If 4,000 schools have been inspected, then 800 are dissatisfied. Mr Woodhead mentions the "high-profile criticisms" of Carol FitzGibbon and others. The people "who actually run schools" may find favour with OFSTED, those who actually have to do the running at the behest of headteachers (ie the teaching), are firmly in the Fitz-Gibbon camp.

There was an overwhelming majority at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers assembly for our resolution condemning OFSTED and seeking its abolition. This is from the "moderate" teaching union, which incidentally does not have heads as members. Many professionals attended the Office for Standards in Inspection conference to protest about or question OFSTED and I heard not one single word in support of the organisation from any quarter, when I was researching in preparation for my speech to assembly. It was all negative, every bit of it. I suggest The TES polls "real" teachers next to get their reaction.

Mr Woodhead says "four out of five heads believe morale is good" while "those who purport to speak for teachers rather than teachers themselves", ie "professors of education", hold that morale is very poor in the profession. A belief is not a fact. Ask the "real" teachers, not the heads.

Very few heads will admit that morale is low in their schools, but I can assure you that morale is very low in many schools, though OFSTED is not all to blame.


Executive member Association of Teachers and Lecturers 20 Melrose Avenue Southport

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