Just the cup of tea for an inspector

11th November 2005 at 00:00
David Henderson and Neil Munro report from the eighth Edinburgh Conference, organised by the City of Edinburgh Council and sponsored by The TES Scotland

Inspectors should spend more time in staffrooms, Eamon Stack, chief inspector of schools in Ireland, suggested.

Mr Stack was responding to Rory Mackenzie, headteacher of Balerno Community High in Edinburgh, who expressed "sadness" at the lack of time teachers have for dialogue. "It's very much a case of wham, bang, thank you mam when inspectors visit," Mr Mackenzie said.

Mr Stack agreed that inspectors should spend more time with teachers and said staffrooms were where the school temperature could be taken and the "school context" assessed.

But schools should also recognise that, while inspectors have expertise gained from visits to many schools, teachers are also experts and perhaps they do not acknowledge that often enough.

Mr Stack agreed that the term "rigorous inspection" has a negative tone, associated with "harsh treatment, dominance, even oppression". But, he suggested, high-quality evaluation must be about "rigorous procedures", although part of that ought to be about "affirming good practice" as well as being constructive about ideas for improvement.

The Irish system could be regarded as "hand-holding", Mr Stack said. "In many ways, teachers seem to want that."

One of the critical challenges for inspection, he concluded, was to "ensure that schools have the capability to manage change and development".

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, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today