End of Ofsted's cruel culture

14th May 2004 at 01:00
The headline about the leaked results of a recent staff survey in the Office for Standards in Education has prompted me to write, in some sadness (TES, April 30).

As a recently retired Her Majesty's Inspector, I was disappointed that any leak should have occurred, but especially over what should be respected as private business within Ofsted.

Furthermore, the timing of the public release of the information now is particularly poor, since David Bell and Ofsted as a whole are taking many serious, widespread and positive steps to improve matters. Such improvements had begun well before I left in March 2004.

In my view, it is a mark of a new and relatively recent openness within the culture of the organisation that such surveys have been undertaken and that their findings, however difficult and revealing they are, have been shared with those directly involved.

In my recollection, the difficulties and problems to which some of the findings of the staff surveys alluded sprang from an earlier, some would say deliberately cultivated, cruel culture that is now, mercifully, blood under the bridge.

It is a tribute to many of those who worked in Ofsted during those hard times that its external achievements were so widespread and that so much of its work was so well done: some would add, despite the abject deficiencies in its overall leadership at the highest level.

It would be wise and sensible for other interested parties, and anyone of goodwill, including The TES, to recognise and respect the more recent improvements in climate. These were initiated at least in part over two years ago, under Mike Tomlinson.

We should let those who are now moving things on do so quietly and with dignity, under David Bell's assured and confident leadership. A more humane but ever incisive inspection regime is surely to everyone's benefit.

Clive Goodhead 7 Rowley Court Earswick, York

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