Perhaps it is true that Chris Woodhead is "the most controversial man in education" (TES, February 13), but every cloud has a silver lining and even the chief inspector has a positive contribution to make to teacher morale.
His annual report for 19967 stresses certain points which must lead one to the following conclusion: Teachers are the single most important factor in good education, which should be a useful bargaining ploy in future pay talks.
The economic and social circumstances of pupils' families have a crucial impact on children's educational prospects (viz. the scattergram on free school meals against GCSE results).
The two subject areas that cause most concern are information and communications technology and religious education, which rely largely on teachers who are not teaching their first subject and one of which, ICT, depends heavily on capital expenditure, which has been insufficient.
Schools need to concentrate on raising expectations, which shows that they should have stronger means of insisting on higher standards from pupils, parents and the authorities supporting schools.
The implementation of school development plans is not being handled well, which implies that headteachers have so little certainty about future funding and external policy decisions that many such plans are pure pipe dreams.
Media commentators on education clearly approve of Mr Woodhead's remarks on teaching quality, and so they must equally accept data from the Office for Standards in Education showing that these other factors have a great impact on standards. The time will soon come when teachers have taken up all the slack that lies within their control, and then the other partners in education must be compelled to take their share of the strain.
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