Inspection should not be negative

2nd June 2000 at 01:00
I READ with growing incredulity the letter on why Office for Standards in Education inspectors are not beloved by all (TES, May 19).

Inspection began badly and we all knew of, or experienced, the blunders, the bad management and the fall-out from the reports.

Inspection is still essentially negative and still perceived to be negative. The majority of schools see it as a process to be endured. It is most unfortunate that an external audit, which should be such a good tool in a school's performance management and evaluation, is not yet viewed as such.

Above all, the process is inextricably linked with OFSTED's leader, Chris Woodhead. His arrogant, dogmatic and provocative style gives us no confidence in the process as we have no ownership of it and feel constantly belittled by his pronouncements.

Like your contributor I often feel despair at the pessimistic air which pervades the profession: but not for his reasons.

The introduction of initiative after initiative, (many intrinsically valuable) with inadequate consultation and training; the axing of early retirement; an increasingly complex set of pay scales; plans for a longer working day and much more on the way, have eaten away at morale. So inspection cannot be viewed as anything other than a "catching out" process rather than a professional audit.

If Tony Blair wants the system to work, he needs to look for a genuine partnership with schools. He and OFSTED need to understand that contrary to accepted wisdom we too have a vested interest in the welfare of children.

Tony Roberts

Walton-le-Dale primary school

Severn Drive

Walton-le-Dale

Preston, Lancashire


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