Blinkered view is destructive

5th May 2000 at 01:00
SO AT last definite links are being made between the suicides of teachers and the Office for Standards in Education.

Throughout the past seven years in Cambridgeshire I have witnessed the despair and often the breakdowns of many "good" teachers who could not withstand the harshness of OFSTED. Suicides are only the tip of an iceberg of the anxiety brought about by inspections.

As if this were not bad enough, it is the belief of myself and many others that the narrow view of what constitutes good schools that OFSTED - under the leadership of Chris Woodhead- espouses has led to the destruction of rich, liberal education for our nation's children.

My school was the first of those to be inspected at six weeks' notice (three days after I officialy retired).

It is very clear that the new framework is not about "good practice". It is about schools conforming to government expectations.

In spite of some criticisms, made in my absence, of my management the school was announced to be a "good school". Six weeks before, I had demanded that our teachers spend the following six weeks planning to give OFSTED the type of lessons of which I knew they would approve.

Results show that our teachers were very good at doing so and, as a result, they are now, hopefully, liberated for the next six years to teach in the ways they consider to be the best for the children.

Brian Brown

(ex headteacher Godmanchester community primary school)

1 Scrolans

St Ives, Huntingdon

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