Progress depends on giving OFSTED a chance

17th May 1996 at 01:00
Headteacher Roger Harris (Letters, TES, May 3) says that Colin Richards' attack on the chief inspector will strike a chord with many teachers. In the absence of any honest and objective evaluation of the chief inspector's message, he may well be right.

However, for those of us who accept that it is our responsibility to listen in detail to our chief inspector, we will not be encouraged either by Mr Richards' defence of his actions or by The TES's explanation as to why the the final paragraph of Mr Woodhead's letter was omitted (Letters, April 26).

The Office for Standards in Education has a crucial role to play in school improvement and the profession needs to work closely in partnership with OFSTED if we are to move forward. We won't do this if we fail to give OFSTED a fair hearing or if we allow others to interpret the chief inspector's message for us.

I would ask every primary teacher to read the chief inspector's annual report. Even though some aspects of the report contain constructive criticisms, I know of no other document that is so pragmatically supportive of the best primary practice. Chris Woodhead even says, "there are twice as many really excellent teachers as there are poor teachers", but are most teachers aware that he has written this?

I would also ask heads to consider Nigel de Gruchy's request that they stop hyping up the inspection process. How can heads be helping their staff, or school improvement generally, if they themselves treat an inspection as a threatening, rather than an enabling, process?

Statistics or no statistics, our primary schools need improving. We may not like being reminded of this, but we all know that it is true.

Neither the fact that our chief inspector surrounds his message with supportive statements that are deliberately ignored, nor the fact that The TES chose to omit the statement that OFSTED was prepared to open its data bank for scrutiny, will strike a welcome chord with those teachers who want an honest debate about how best to improve the quality of teaching and learning in our primary schools.



Two Mile Ash GM middle school

The High Street

Two Mile Ash

Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today