Back off or else, directors tell Osler

16th April 1999 at 01:00
DIRECTORS OF education have launched an unprecedented attack on Douglas Osler, the Government's chief education adviser, accusing him of an "inappropriately patronising and authoritarian" approach to target-setting.

Michael O'Neill, president of the Association of Directors of Education and director in North Lanarkshire, has taken the exceptional step of complaining to Gerry Wilson, secretary of the Scottish Office Education and Industry Department.

Directors were angered by Mr Osler's refusal to accept revised targets and suggestions that ministers might name and shame councils and schools. "I cannot recollect any other correspondence which engendered such a widespread and deeply felt reaction from within and outwith our association," Mr O'Neill writes.

Local authorities had worked hard to deliver the Government's agenda on raising standards and social inclusion and their intervention had saved the target-setting initiative and Higher Still.

Mr O'Neill comments: "Given the background it would have seemed more appropriate to recognise the genuine doubts about the methodology, the continuing suspicion of schools and the need for further joint work to raise targets and to investigate and further refine the many technical issues which directors were the first to identify."

In a telling passage, he says: "It is offensive and somewhat Orwellian to suggest that only those directors who implement simpliciter the flawed HMI guidelines are providing leadership, commitment and effective management."

Mr Wilson's reply to Mr O'Neill expresses "concern" and suggests a meeting to discuss matters, but he restates the Government's commitment to partnership "and the contribution which your organisation makes".

Hackles raised, page three

Leader, page 16

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