Scales on their eyes;Diary

8th May 1998 at 01:00
OFSTED has been proud to tell anyone who'll listen that its inspections command overwhelming approval from headteachers and governors. And chief inspector Chris Woodhead has the evidence - based on a survey of schools' opinions.

Scrutiny of the documentation shows, however, that not all is as it seems. To put it bluntly, the form sent out to schools was somewhat slanted. Heads were asked to tick boxes on a standard five-point scale ranging from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree". Fair enough, you might think.

But Woodhead watchers will be astonished to learn that the middle point was "broadly agree". No neutral views allowed. Yet OFSTED itself, in 1996, declared the middle point of a five-point scale to be not neutral, but negative. Thereby justifying HM Chief Inspector's gloomy analysis of primary schools when everyone else, including ex-HMI Colin Richards, thought schools were doing OK.

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