Classic example of doublethink

20th October 2006 at 01:00
It would be an understatement to say that at the end of last term heads did not receive instructions to complete the new school profile for 20045 with transports of joy.

It was a genuine workload issue to fill in data for a year which was long gone and already covered by the annual report to parents for that year, and the online program was hard to access and not user-friendly. It is not surprising that thousands of heads did not complete it, despite the Department for Education and Skills' devious ploy of leaning on the chairs of governing bodies.

This term, heads trying to fill in the profile for the year 20056 have been met by an unctuous message saying that the DfES website is closed because: 1. "We have received an invaluable amount of quality feedback... clearly telling us what has gone well and what needs to be improved " (in other words, we have had a huge amount of flak and disbelief).

2. "There will be a new pictorial format... with greater accuracy than the big arrow display in the original profile" (in other words, there might be a graph).

3. "There will be improved navigation and usability" (in other words, you will be able to get into the programme in less than a weekend and will be able to put enough text in the boxes.

4. "We aim to keep any disruption to the absolute minimum" (in other words, it couldn't be any worse: the first version was rubbish - sorry!

George Orwell would have recognised such doublethink, and if schools had not undergone 20 years of DfES English and self - delusion, you wouldn't believe it either. We are used to many DfES moods, but conciliatory has never been one of them. Be afraid.

Tony Roberts Preston

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