OFSTED offers no answer for Ridings

8th November 1996 at 00:00
From Will and Anna Reese.

As teachers in comprehensive schools in Coventry who have been through Office for Standards in Education inspections, we think the Government's decision to "do something" about The Ridings school by sending in an OFSTED inspection team is in the best traditions of Nero. OFSTED comes, sees, criticises publicly and goes away without taking any responsibility for the consequences. The OFSTED framework will give us no new insight into the matrix of problems that surround the school (and we believe it is not the only one facing such problems).

Some questions OFSTED will not answer:

Is the school adequately funded?

Has class size risen in recent years, and if so why?

Has the teaching load on staff increased in recent years?

Is the national curriculum the appropriate course of study for all students at the school?

Are the resources (and time) available to develop, implement and monitor an Individual Education Plan for every student in the school with special needs?

Are there additional resources attached to the statements of the students whose special needs are behavioural? What facilities now exist in Calderdale to advise, train and support the school in this area?

Do teachers have time to develop the home school links, so trumpeted by every political party in the last week?

How much money has the establishment of grant-maintained schools in Calderdale taken out of The Ridings school and its feeder primary schools?

How much time this term and last has been spent on preparing paper for OFSTED rather than coping with the known and evident problems of the school and the needs of the students?

Was the pressure created by the need to produce this (largely irrelevant) material a factor in a break down of relations between head and staff?

How many pupils at The Ridings school are formal or informal "rejects" from the surrounding schools? What resources from those schools have gone into funding the education of the pupils they do not want?

Conservative education policy has been about creating a few favoured schools for their supporters at the expense of the needs of the majority of students. Educational opportunity depends on your address. Some of those chickens have come home to roost at The Ridings school. We predict that this special OFSTED inspection will have answered none of these questions.

WILL AND ANNA REESE 116 Rosslyn Avenue, Coundon, Coventry.

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