Holes in the heads' blanket

4th June 2004 at 01:00
David Sassoon, in his article "Don't take heads' comfort blankets" (TES, May 21), indicates his opposition to the forthcoming removal of external assessors on the grounds that, even as a former head himself, he is able to recognise that some heads are dishonest and will pass poor teachers with whom they have a good relationship, while opposing good teachers "who have aroused their ire".

Clearly, this is a huge cause for concern. Who is to question the honesty of such headteachers in the future?

However, Mr Sassoon continues, "Heads feel secure when assessors cover them with blankets of validity confirming threshold decisions", and there lies the problem, together with a very good argument for the removal of these assessors as they currently exist.

The reason for some of these heads feeling reassured in their dealings is the knowledge that hitherto at least one of these "independent" assessors is a former headteacher from the same county who has therefore been called upon to scrutinise the work of his good friends, the other headteachers in the county.

It is obviously somewhat less reassuring to those whose application may have been unfairly dealt with to know that the "independent" assessor is a good friend of the person responsible for the original dodgy decision!

I suspect the entire teaching profession, with the possible exception of a few highly dubious headteachers (and their retired counterparts who have used this work to supplement their pensions), would endorse my view that any such appeals should be carried out under the auspices of their professional association union, for the same fee paid previously, with the possibility of a tribunal hearing where agreement is not reached.

SA Springthorpe Tregorrick, Hastings

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