Talkback

2nd June 2000 at 01:00
Our recent inspection report says pupils' behaviour is very good and the way the school cares for its pupils is very good, there are good relationships and the school is well led... surprising really, as the report has emerged just as our closure notices are being prepared, and the consultation on the future provision for special needs in our local education authority is being concluded. (We've also been re-recognised with the Sportsmark, have recently achieved our second Investors in People recognition and have been oversubscribed for a decade.) When I received Ofsted's notice of inspection dates - March 13 to 17 - I wrote back saying that in view of the likely closure notices being published for September, could we all wait a term, reconsider and then tackle the inspection when my staff had been fully consulted on their futures?

The timing was insensitive, given that a large number of employees and parents were unsure as to the school's future. A later inspection would have been easier as the closure notices would have been issued, the results of the consultation procedures would have been published and staff would have had a clearer vision of their future roles. But my request for a delay was refused.

So during the spring and summer terms we have managed the inspection, talked to parents about the new schools for special needs and where their children will ultimately be placed, and introduced performance management training and threshold assessment. At te same time I have been trained as an assessor and been accepted as an adviser for the threshold assessment.

My staff have been to Spain on the annual modern foreign languages trip and are preparing for a joint opera performance, an outdoor pursuits camp, the Merseyside Youth Games, Saturday club and the summer activity week. Many are also studying and training.

While the inspectors were friendly, positive and professional, they were the last thing we needed at this time and they knew it. Ofsted's professional arrogance at leadership level represents all that is bad about those who administer education.They should be the model of good leadership - listening, considering, weighing up the evidence, working collaboratively, and seeking to do what is in the best interests of the education service.

I have worked for Ofsted, but I would like to see an end to the gravy train for the retired teachers and advisers and a return to a strong and independent HMI able to sample appropriately and to write in a clear and inspiring manner.

I always found HMI thoughtful, experienced and sensitive. Some of the people who used to be HMI have lost these qualities in the change to Ofsted. After 32 years as teacher, officer, inspector and head, maybe I have lost the plot?

Mic Carolan Mic Carolan is head of the180-pupil Hurst School, language unit and SEN resource centre in St Helens, Merseyside. It is likely to close in the authority's SEN reorganisation


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