Editor's comment

22nd August 2008 at 01:00

One of our wittier education officials was once overheard to say that his authority, which had been experiencing unsettled times, had a very important function in Scottish education - to make everybody else feel good about themselves. The same might be said about Ofsted south of the border in relation to HMIE. This week's columns reflect again the challenges facing the inspectorate in Scotland, as it tries to adopt a "cuddlier" persona and balance rigour with support.

A glance across the border, however, should make Scottish teachers reflect on whether they should be praising HMIE rather than seeking to bury it. Our sister paper, The TES, reported last week that the Ofsted regime has taken to writing to pupils as young as four saying, in effect, that their school is failing them. One inspector warned pupils in a Nottinghamshire primary: "You are not well prepared for your next stage of education, nor your future adult lives." This is an innovative approach to motivation.

As has often been said, Scotland should not shelter behind comparisons with England. The inspectorate in Scotland has, however, shown signs of significant reform in its dealings with schools and colleges, as even an arch critic like Brian Boyd concedes. But the experience of Sandy McAulay shows how far removed these good intentions are from the experiences of some schools.

The truth is that the inspectorate in Scotland is here to stay: neither the public nor, more importantly, national politicians would trust local authorities to police a self-evaluation regime. So long as satisfaction levels with the way inspectors are doing their job are running at 90 per cent, so long as the crudities of insensitive inspection elsewhere reflect well on the Scottish approach and so long as the reformist agenda is not confined to the top of the inspectorate, HMIE should feel safe.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now