Curse of value-added 'superstition'

14th March 2008 at 00:00
I agree with Alun Pelleschi's indictment of Ofsted's sharp practice. This is reinforced by my close involvement with a school whose leadership and management have recently been criticised for not demonstrating the capacity to secure sustained improvement, even though the leadership team had only been in post a year before the inspection. As Mr Pelleschi points out, the current featherweight inspection framework needs to be rigorously challenged.

As a former HMI, I have had experience of institutions in need of special measures. From my own experience, and that of many others such as Mr Pelleschi's, I am clear that Ofsted itself falls into that category. Adapting (ever so slightly) the words of the September 2007 edition of the current inspection framework, Ofsted is an institution "which requires special measures because it is failing to give schools an acceptable standard of inspection, and where the persons responsible for leading, managing or governing the institution are not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement" - both in inspection practice and in the education system as a whole.

If that improvement is not forthcoming, the organisation needs to be disbanded and a system of quality assurance, such as that in the much-praised Finnish education system, introduced instead.

Professor Colin Richards, Spark Bridge, Cumbria.

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