Ignorant OFSTED asks the impossible

17th February 1995 at 00:00
We live in the post-modernist age - all of us except for the Office for Standards in Education, that is.

We know that each reader creates his or her own meaning when reading a text. OFSTED does not know this. It bases its whole edifice on the belief that the Framework and Handbook will have the same meaning for all the inspectors.

We know that objectivity is impossible. OFSTED does not know this. It tells its inspectors that they must be objective.

We know that adding a number to a subjective comment on what we think we might have seen and heard in a classroom does not make that comment an objective "judgment". OFSTED does not know this. It takes all these numbers and adds them up and then says silly things like "30 per cent of lessons were not satisfactory".

We know that the observer alters what is observed, and that the old idea that you can have the observer outside the box reporting on what is happening inside in a detached way, reporting what is "really" going on, are both impossibilities. OFSTED does not know this. It purports to tell us what is happening in classrooms and schools.

We know that if money now being spent by OFSTED were to go instead into human and non-human resources , our children's education would be helped.

Until that miracle occurs, it would be pleasant to see OFSTED making its pronouncements, like the recent annual report, with humility, because, in a post-modernist world, its brash certainties just sound empty.

C BOWRING-CARR

26 Derryvolgie Park

Lisburn

Co Antrim

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