Have you noticed?

4th September 1998 at 01:00
Most people seem to regard OFSTED as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Like divorce, it is painful, messy and stressful; but at least once it is over we can get on with the rest of our lives. Yes, we know there is a six-year cycle of re-inspection, but in six years we may be retired, dead, the school may have burned down or OFSTED been abolished by popular demand. Surely we won't have to go through all that again.

For some schools, however, the repeat visit is as unexpected and unwelcome as the Spanish Inquisition. A school in my county received the dreaded Brown Envelope within a couple of years of their first successful inspection. They asked why and were told it was because of their "serious weaknesses". Urgent enquiries revealed that the school had been confused with another of the same name in another county.

So Ofsted, you may think, won't be coming to this unlucky establishment? Well, they will actually; tenders have already been submitted, arrangements made. At a cost of some Pounds 25,000 it is apparently more convenient to go ahead than to cancel. I wonder, will the school in real need of inspection be visited too?

Did someone say something about mismanaged public funds?

Joan Dalton

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