Pull the plug on a monstrous quango

30th January 2009 at 00:00

What a joy it has been to read Mike Kent's articles on Ofsted. It's about time that the profession pulled the plug on this monstrous, self-policing quango. Mike is quite correct in his assertion that there is not a shred of evidence that Ofsted has raised standards in schools.

What your back-page columnist correctly states (but under-emphasises) is the distress it causes to individuals and to whole communities when its judgments - which are unchallengeable and based on shifting parameters - record that a school is failing.

Fear of inspection has led to illness and, in some cases, tragedy.

I recently attended a national conference on community cohesion in which a senior Ofsted official proudly asserted that its inspectors had been fully trained in this aspect. When questioned further, he revealed that this consisted of "one day's training plus a little on-line training".

Quite rightly this was met with hoots of laughter. But it begs the question: what training did the Haringey team have? Because Ofsted operates to a data-led formula, it does not genuinely explore the context.

In these times of recession and cutbacks, if Mr Balls reads this letter, perhaps he could find a quick, effective and vote-winning cut that would do no harm whatsoever to education.

Alun Pelleschi, Shipley, West Yorkshire.

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