Heads evaluate

30th April 2004 at 01:00
We asked more than 600 heads what they thought about self-evaluation.

* Self-evaluation needs to be extended beyond the academic curriculum. At the moment, judgment of a school depends too heavily on the views of remote, micro-managing bean-counters.

* Self-evaluation is difficult with constant change implemented from the centre. Surely it is time for some stability and consistency in approach.

* Are the staff teams in schools really so unprofessional that they constantly require an array of personnel consultants to identify their strengths and dictate their future development?

* School development is an ongoing process in which you never arrive. The journey matters and self-evaluation is a snapshot of the bit you are walking now.

* Schools need time away from further initiatives to consolidate good practice. Most teachers are reflective people.

* If self-evaluation is to become the norm, then there should be adequate funding so it can be effectively managed.

* Short inspections were tried before and failed. I don't think self-evaluation will make it any more successful. We need personalised inspections. Short notice, yes. Short inspections, no.

* There's a huge danger that this process will become all-consuming, evaluation for evaluation's sake.

* I'd prefer Ofsted and the Department for Education and Skills to trust our self-evaluation and not increase the frequency of inspection. Perhaps we should increase the frequency of general elections to help the Government self-evaluate.

* The S4 is a game of Russian roulette - name your weaknesses and have them harshly judged or don't name them and be harshly judged for not knowing them.

* Self-evaluation is important: could this be recognised by a reduction in the rest of the excessive monitoring regime?

* Is self-evaluation signing our own death warrant? I know what I want to improve in my school. I am not sure I want the inspector to know.

* Schools must ensure they use an evidence base to back up their judgments: it is hard to take over a school that has judged itself higher than it actually performs.

* Commercial self-evaluation tools are unwieldly and costly.

* Small schools need data analysis training.

* Ofsted didn't question our analysis of the effect of deprivation, but did say that this was an excuse, not a reason, for poor attainment. Are we making a rod for our own backs?

* A single national model would ensure all schools start from the same baseline.

* Let's have free choice of models, so the distinctive character of a school can be encouraged.

Our self-evaluation survey was backed by Lloyds TSB and the National Association of Head Teachers. It covers 516 primary schools and 102 secondary.

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