Good riddance to the arrogance

10th November 2000 at 00:00
I SUSPECT that in common with every other state school in the land my staff and I went to work with a smile on Friday at the news of the professional demise of Chris Woodhead.

Having watched, at times almost open-mouthed with disbelief, his performance in front of the select committee for education it merely confirmed his arrogance. The MPs were met with his ever-popular riposte that they were not intellectually capable of grasping more than one point at a time, if that.

His supporters have again stressed the point that the unremitting rigour with which he fashioned and drove OFSTED helped raise standards in schools. This is undoubtedly so, but at what cost?

External audit should be an important tool in any school's drive to raise standards but if it is accompanied by fear, whether true or perceived, and by loss of morale, then the process can only e seen as self-defeating.

If the reports are to be believed David Blunkett deserves credit for seeing the damage the chief inspector was causing. Tony Blair deserves little credit for not seeing this and for the re-appointment two years ago, knowing the effect OFSTED and Woodhead in particular was having on the profession.

Given the increasing crisis in teacher recruitment, especially for senior management, and the catastrophic state of morale in the profession, the Government would do well to appoint a successor who has drive, vision and the commitment to enlist the support of teachers. They are essential for the maintenance of the progress in education which has taken place over the past few years, despite the efforts of the late HMCI to rubbish the view.

Tony Roberts

Walton le Dale community primary school

Preston, Lancashire

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