Woodhead script sounds familiar

11th April 1997 at 01:00
Is pressure of work beginning to affect the judgment of our "fearless" chief inspector?

Take, for example, his recent tirade against educational research. His first target was a review of school effectiveness OFSTED had itself commissioned. This looks like an own goal. If the report was as deficient as he implies why did OFSTED allow a summary account of the findings to be distributed, at great expense, to every school governor in the country?

Or take his disparaging remarks about the research on innovation and change in education whose findings, he claims, simply "re-state what everyone knows". "Do such blindingly obvious statements", he asks, "constitute a proper return on taxpayers' money?" I doubt whether the chief inspector has read this research and he omits his sources. But his remarks bear an uncanny resemblance to an article which appeared in a newspaper last year. He has focused on the same issues, used almost exactly the same words and expressed the same sentiments. Could it be that his authoritative judgments are merely second-hand versions of a simplistic and highly selective account offered by a somewhat partisan journalist? Are the chief inspector and the education correspondent of the Daily Telegraph by any chance related? I think we should be told.

Just over two years ago the same journalist condemned "the consumption of millions of pounds of tax-payers' money. . .(on). . .an expensive farce" resulting in "a torrent of useless reports...and the covering up and consolidation of bad practice". This time, however, his target was closer to home. "Educationally and financially", he concluded, "OFSTED is a rip-off".

I sympathise with the chief inspector. What is the world coming to when one can't even trust what one reads in the Telegraph?

PROFESSOR JOHN GRAY Homerton College Cambridge

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