Border heads angry at HMI

26th June 1998 at 01:00
Primary headteachers in the Borders have protested to the Inspectorate about the standard of a presentation on target setting.

They describe "a top-down giving of instructions, delivered in a patronising and sometimes aggressive manner".

The letter to Douglas Osler, head of the Inspectorate, says that the team led by Frank Crawford, the chief inspector in charge of the Audit Unit, failed to answer the heads' questions, especially those relating to small rural schools.

The letter adds: "We found the presentation extremely dull and coldly delivered. For any headteacher who had read the target setting document, much of the morning was a waste of time."

The heads state their commitment to raising attainment levels. But they describe the education system as "ever more centrally directed, and (one) where there is a single set of right answers handed down from above".

Sheena Vannan, headteacher of Philiphaugh Community School, Selkirk, and chair of the association, told the TES Scotland that many of her colleagues had come away "thoroughly demoralised". The HMIs' answers were "pat or political", and heads of small schools had been told that they should deal with targets in their "clusters".

"But how can we do that," Mrs Vannan asked, "when we are responsible for standards in only one school, our own?" Mr Osler wrote back expressing "disappointment" at reaction to the seminar, which had been carefully planned and contained an "extensive" question and answer session. Evaluation forms showed that three-quarters of participants rated the keynote address good or very good, with the workshops described as good or very good by 60 per cent. The question on small schools had not been ignored: the seminar was told a national officer is preparing advice to be available in the autumn.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today