Terror: not in the job description

4th February 2005 at 00:00
When a headteacher with such a track record as Kenny Frederick acknowledges the depth of anxiety generated by the inspection framework, it gives pause for thought (TES, January 21). While, as she says, "self-doubt", or the capacity for critical self-reflection by teachers and schools, is an essential component of professionalism, the "terror" that she refers to is surely not.

It seems to have become a given in education that inspection has to be a trial by fire, as if only a primitive generation of anxiety will reveal the effectiveness of a school. The sad example she gives also testifies to how this gets exacerbated by the framework which sees the internal workings of a school and its leadership in a vacuum where mitigating factors are somehow "irrelevant".

This is a situation which cries out for some proper research into the impact of the Ofsted's approach on teachers' professional and personal effectiveness and well-being, so as to forge a more emotionally literate, and balanced, approach to school inspection.

Such research might also shed some light on how institutional anxiety in schools gets transmitted to the people they are there to serve - the pupils. Do readers know of any research that has been done in this area?

Phil Goss Retired headteacher 22 Ruskin Drive Kirkby Lonsdale Carnforth, Lancashire

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