Forcing opt outs

13th October 1995 at 01:00
Teachers are not frightened of accountability or inspection by genuinely independent Office for Standards in Education teams. As teachers with nothing to hide, we may believe we have nothing to fear from the decision of Chris Woodhead, the chief inspector, to send inspection teams into all schools in Waltham Forest and Lambeth starting in January as announced on October 6.

On the same day The TES revealed that the statutory four-year cycle of inspection cannot be adhered to. Are registered teams to be diverted from other areas in order to concentrate on the 134 schools which remain uninspected in the two boroughs concerned? Has Mr Woodhead considered the negative effects of compressing a four-year cycle into seven months? If the aim is to promote improvements in schools, his method seems to set them up to fail.

A school in Waltham Forest, inspected 13 months ago, has suddenly been identified as requiring "special measures" based upon new OFSTED guidelines.

Coming so close to the Conservative party conference, such action can be construed as politically motivated. Is Mr Major now planning to see schools forced to opt out by teams of inspectors who have just been instructed to be harder on schools and teachers?

The Government seems determined to destroy local education authorities. Teachers, parents and pupils all over the country have everything to fear from this cynical intervention under the guise of improving educational standards.

Chris Jenkin Deputy general secretary - Waltham Forest National Union of Teachers London E17

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