Why penalise teachers who work in poor areas, Ofsted?

3rd July 2009 at 01:00

The TES editor Gerard Kelly's editorial on Ofsted is on the nail mostly, but it omits two key points. Of course, Ofsted has helped to drive up standards, but the methodology has too many suspect features. Ofsted was conceived in a negative atmosphere and has continued in that vein. Despite its assertions that it has checks and balances in its system, it is basically answerable to no one. To change the overall grade for a school, it is not enough to find errors in the inspection procedure - you would need to prove the team was in another school by mistake! Its continual reinvention of the inspection process is part of the way it perpetuates its existence and Pounds 200 million budget.

The great flaw in the process is the continuing inconsistency in the quality of the inspection teams. Lancashire - like any area in the country - has evidence from schools that if you get a good team then the process is valuable regardless of the outcome. If you get a myopic number-cruncher with the interpersonal skills of a bouncer, then the process demotivates all teachers.

It is no credit to our society that the poor have been let down by governments and those with the power to effect real change. Of course, poor teaching and poor management have no place in the education system and schools are accountable in this scenario, but hammering them with poor inspection teams and quasi-inspectors such as school improvement partners helps no one.

Tony Roberts, Lancashire admin and membership secretary, National Association of Head Teachers.

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