OFSTED fails test

24th July 1998 at 01:00
This week we were informed that a highly-influential group of educationists were wasting millions of pounds of public money by producing misleading reports based on inadequate investigations.

The miscreants who have been held up to public ridicule are education researchers. But some would say that the Office for Standards in Education, which commissioned the report on education research from Professor James Tooley, should be clamped in the stocks for precisely the same offences.

There are, after all, worrying discrepancies between inspection gradings and national test results for English, maths and science. And the decision to stop grading primary pupils' attainment in subjects for which no test data are available looks like a belated acknowledgement that inspectors need harder evidence to justify assessments.

But OFSTED itself should maintain the scrupulous objectivity it expects from inspectors and researchers. It failed the impartiality test again on Wednesday when it announced that Tooley's report had characterised more than half of recent academic educational research as second-rate. In fact, Tooley avoided making such tendentious generalisations. OFSTED should follow his example.

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