Ofsted fails to ease stress

23rd June 2006 at 01:00
The fact that one in 16 schools has had cause to complain since the implementation of new, shorter, inspections must nail Ofsted's assertion that the new framework would create less stress for schools.

The anxiety of a long run-in to inspections has been replaced by the fear of snap-judgements and mis-interpreted data or overlooked contextual factors.

Your feature "Ofsted and Out" (Friday magazine, June 9) further illustrates the vulnerability of headteachers to all this. When will Ofsted and government realise the link between the decline in headship applicants and a punitive inspection regime that threatens professional calamity and humiliation?

A simple bit of psychology applies here: if you build people up to be the key players in the success or otherwise of a school (as headteachers have been) you need to consider carefully the impact of regularly punishing a proportion of them. When will we move beyond this Victorian approach to responding to the complex issues schools face?

I thought the point the (understandably anonymous) new head made about the subjectivity of the perspective of lead inspectors was a powerful one. No inspection can be truly objective, especially when undertaken two days once every few years. With schools still having not even a modest right to reply in reports, the lead inspector has far too much power to judge the work of a school.

It's surely time heads and the association which represents them, did more than complain at conferences about the damage this approach is doing to schools and individual careers, and found the mettle to make an effective challenge to this primitive approach to school improvement.

Phil Goss (former headteacher)

22 Ruskin Drive

Kirkby Lonsdale

Carnforth, Lancs

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