HMI warned of return to 'qualy'

18th October 1996 at 01:00
Douglas Osler, the Government's senior chief inspector of schools, has been attacked by a leading researcher for advocating setting as a way of countering pupil underachievement.

There is no research evidence over the past 30 years to support Mr Osler's thesis, according to Dr Brian Boyd, associate director of the Quality in Education Centre at Strathclyde University and a former secondary headteacher.

Dr Boyd argues that the move towards setting, outlined last week at the launch of the Inspectorate's report on class organisation, will bring selection and a return to the "qualy" one step closer.

In a letter to The TES Scotland, Dr Boyd complains that Mr Osler and the Inspectorate have joined the English agenda "by proposing a simplistic and dogmatic solution to what is a complex problem".

Underachievement is a problem common to most advanced European countries and cannot be solved by setting in English and mathematics within the 5-14 levels, Dr Boyd maintains.

"What game is being played here?" he asks. "Has the Inspectorate bought into a right-wing elitist agenda and seeks to justify it by saying that teachers find mixed-ability too difficult to manage? What teachers find difficult to manage is the plethora of new initiatives, the refusal by the Scottish Office Education and Industry Department to let one initiative bed down before promoting another one, and the continual emphasis on things that can be measured."

Dr Boyd goes on to state that there is growing evidence that underachievement is best tackled by improved motivation, self-concept and "emotional intelligence".

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today