Hogg case proves HMIE failures

29th January 2010 at 00:00

As a retired headteacher, I was disappointed with your article in last week's TESS about the Irene Hogg case.

Her brother, Roger Hogg, said she had been distraught and "almost shell- shocked" by the inspection at her school, Glendinning Terrace Primary. He said she had felt "undermined" by the whole process.

How could Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) determine that her leadership was weak when leadership means the ability to inspire and for others to follow you? It is not about management or administration. HMIE defines it as adherence to its voluminous, unworkable audit procedures - what it calls indicators, but aren't. Why didn't HMIE find out in its inspection what has come across in the fatal accident inquiry. Might she not then be still alive?

Now that Miss Hogg is dead, we have had a fatal accident inquiry which concluded that she was "respected and held in high esteem . (and) proved herself to be an outstanding headteacher." A leader in anyone's book.

From the evidence heard at the inquiry, it is clear that the inspection team had concluded quite differently. She had been "almost shell-shocked by the whole process" and found it "torturous". Does it take someone to die for their true merits to come forth, or the merits of their school? Is that evidence of the "vindication" of the inspectorate, as your report last week seems to imply?

The sheriff specifically stated: "There can be no doubt that Irene Hogg's death is inextricably linked to the outcome of the inspection". But he makes clear that his inquiry was not set up to look at those procedures themselves, and he did not do so.

It is time for HMIE to be replaced with a different sort of evaluation, one which encourages teachers to do what they have been trained to do. It is time to trust teachers and heads. They have the best interests of pupils at heart, no matter what the public have been manipulated to think.

Morag Foster, former headteacher, Ardross Primary, Ross-shire.

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