Woodhead should have been quietly moved on

2nd October 1998 at 01:00
Having assimilated the very real shock on hearing of Chris Woodhead's reappointment as chief inspector with its attendant 34 per cent pay rise, I am wondering if this is one of those moments when we have a glimpse of this Government's real attitude to the teaching profession as opposed to the carefully fabricated image.

We have come to accept that a public service such as education must be monitored.

There has, however, been much valid and independent criticism of the Office for Standards in Education's methods and its chief's selective use of statistics and delight in his macho image.

There have been poor teachers and headteachers whom the system has "found out", but we all know of countless colleagues who have been seriously damaged by the methods of OFSTED in schools where they have been trying to manage impossible situations.

There is now an acknowledged crisis of recruitment which, if not solved, will make the Government's drive to raise standards impossible to implement. Reasons for this crisis are legion but pay is one issue and morale an even greater one.

Any astute politician, and Tony Blair prides himself on being "in touch", would surely have realised two things.

First, appointing a new chief inspector would have been an excellent and inexpensive gesture to the profession showing that he wished to redress some of the grievances of the past and inviting us to rejoin the partnership he so proudly vaunts. Mr Woodhead could have been praised and found another post and face saved all round.

Second, we are again facing demands for pay restraint in the public sector and the Government has been very uncomfortable about large pay rises at the top of organisations when the pay of the labour force has been held down.

It is either incredibly insensitive to both reappoint and reward Mr Woodhead in this way, or does it constitute an arrogant message to us that the Government does not really care and that we should just accept all that is heaped upon us and do as we are told?

Tony Roberts. Headteacher. Walton-le-Dale county primary school. Preston. Lancashire

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