Years of unnecessary damage

10th November 2000 at 00:00
THE departure of the chief inspector has been a long time coming.

In May, 1997, I had the privilege of proposing a vote of "no confidence" in Chris Woodhead at the National Association of Head Tea-chers conference in Scarborough. It was quite clear then that he was part of the problem rather than an essential element of its solution.

But no, he was in place and under the patronage of the then prime minister, John Major, so there he remained. With the change of government, there was hope and enthusiasm in schools, now we could move forward.

The decision to keep him in office did much to dampen the mood. The damage to morale continued, as time and again he step-ped outside his brief to offer personal, unsubstantiated, opinion.

His cursory dismissal of educational research; his hostility to a range of further education issues, partiularly his view of university departments of education; and his derogatory remarks about teachers who struggle in under-funded classrooms to deliver high-quality experiences for children, has continued for three years longer than it need have.

The inspection of schools is now an integral part of the education service and we have no problem with that. We must, however, hope that any re-evaluation of the Office for Standards in Education under new leadership will see a return to honest, open professional discussion, with the views of all those involved, duly considered.

The only pity is that he ultimately had the considered choice of resignation when he should have been called in to the DFEE within days of the 1997 election and sacked.

Chris McDonnell

Fulfen primary school

Rugeley Road

Burntwood, Staffordshire

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