Little morale in tabloid stories

2nd June 2000 at 01:00
I WRITE as an employee of a local education authority and an experienced Office for Standards in Education inspector.

I also write with some trepidation, having been warned that complaints about our recent report from the OFSTED will only make it worse for us.

I welcome wholeheartedly Martin Stephen's ideas (TES, May 26).

The high master of Manchester Grammar School commands great respect and admiration way beyond the boundaries of his school, yet Chris Woodhead is typically dismissive of any attempt even to examine the topic.

On the same page as your editorial, you quote one of his "tabloid-style" remarks on education authorities. Yet if you read these reports, and the bland set of recommendations, it would be hard to reconcile the findings with the headlines.

It is because the languge of inspection has fallen from the almost sanctified prose of the old HMI to the strident tone of Woodhead in the Daily Mail that such scrutiny is necessary.

Perhaps asking Chris Woodhead to report dispassionately on authorities is like asking the Socialist Workers party to investigate the monarchy or the Klu Klux Klan being asked to re-evaluate the fairness of apartheid.

What I would urge is that you pursue and promote this debate vigorously. The damage being done by this culture of blame and shame is immeasurable.

No amount of cosmetic teacher awards will heal the damage done by continuing the open season on anyone who falls foul of ideologically or politically-motivated attacks. Education reduced to winning an election! Tragic!

Martin Mcarthur

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