Taken a touch too lightly for head of special school

23rd July 1999 at 01:00
THE head of one the five schools piloting the new light-touch inspections said he would have preferred to go through a traditional, longer OFSTED visit, writes Warwick Mansell.

David Reid, head of Catherington special school, in Crawley, West Sussex, said that inspectors had not spent enough time in lessons on their two-day visit in February.

The light-touch inspection team found that the quality of teaching and learning was "unsatisfactory" for Catherington pupils with profound learning difficulties.

But Mr Reid said staff at the school, which has 80 pupils with a range of severe learning difficulties, disagreed.

The inspectors reported that pupils with dual sensory impairment should have been taught in groups, but the school said this went against the latest research.

Since January, it had been teaching such children on a one-to-one basis, because in this "minimal" environment, pupils were more likely to respond to stimuli.

Mr Reid said the short inspection time - he said the team had spent only an hour and 20 minutes observing pupils with profound learning difficulties - made it less likely they would be able to see the benefit of the teaching.

And the pace of the two-day visit meant that inspectors were unable to familiarise themselves with the school's teaching methods, or to discuss them with staff.

Mr Reid said: "The light-touch inspection may in some respects be easier for schools. But I think that the full inspection gives us more time to discuss and develop ideas with the inspection team. I would have preferred a full inspection, myself."

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