Give us right to reply to inspectors

10th February 2006 at 00:00
It seems Ofsted is pleased with the way the new "self-evaluation" approach to inspection is going (TES, January 27). Apparently one in 11 schools has been deemed "inadequate" in the autumn term, including 83 schools placed in special measures.

It is gratifying to know that more than 60 per cent of schools are good or better. However, the alarming implication is that Ofsted feels that getting on for 40 per cent are not. That's 40 per cent of schools inspected last term left almost certainly feeling worse about what they provide than before the inspections.

The one in 11 deemed inadequate represents, as Maurice Smith, acting chief inspector, puts it a "raising of the bar". In other words, that figure is slightly higher than the average under the old inspection regime for the past three years.

This is slightly perplexing in relation to claims made last term that fewer schools were being failed and that this somehow reflected well on the 'self-evaluation' approach.

What this continues to demonstrate is that school inspection continues to rely on a primitive approach which is about highlighting weaknesses and "naming and shaming". How, I'd like to ask, has self-evaluation helped?

The inspection regime still leaves out the voice of the school in reports - this leaves the school powerless and heads and teachers demoralised.

A modest right of reply in the inspection report would make a real difference and probably leave the diminishing number of professionals willing to become heads feeling a touch more secure. Why can't this be allowed and schools given more respect for the difficult work they do?

Phil Goss (former headteacher) 22 Ruskin Drive, Kirkby Lonsdale Carnforth, Lancs

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