Governors talk plainly to inspectors

5th February 1999 at 00:00
Governors want their own private inspection reports written in plain English, MPs heard this week.

They want separate reports to be sent to governing bodies to help them address important weaknesses picked out by the Office for Standards in Education.

Pat Petch, chair of the National Governors' Council, amused MPs on the education select committee when she suggested that inspectors often couched criticism in diplomatic language.

"You sit there and think it could mean this or it could mean something completely different," she said while giving evidence to the MPs' inquiry into OFSTED.

"We're talking a lot about sharing good practice but we're not doing a lot about it. Without feedback the whole exercise is a waste of time," she said.

Pat Petch was supported by Susan Lewis, chief inspector in Wales. "I think there needs to be some follow-through. You don't improve schools just by inspecting them," she said. But she warned: "It is dangerous (for inspectors) to say this is how I would do it, because you walk away."

Most governors are happy with the inspection system. Only one in five regards OFSTED's checks on their school as unfair and more than 80 per cent believe that they are useful and well-conducted.

A survey of 124 schools by the NGC revealed that two-thirds believed inspection had helped. However, 60 per cent thought that their OFSTED report had caused staff unnecessary stress.

John Adams, chair of the rival National Association of Governors and Managers, criticised OFSTED for engendering change through "criticism rather than advice".

In praise of inspection, 26

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