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Time should be up for Ofsted

Geoff Barton is usually well in tune with current educational issues in his column, but last week's offering ("Mr Gove, think twice before you trifle with Ofsted") is about as wide of the mark as England's footballers were against Algeria.

Schools accept the need for a robust system of accountability as they serve the bulk of the nation's children with a substantial budget from the public purse. They also deserve a system that is fair, consistent and operated by inspectors of high calibre with relevant experience of an education system that has seen more changes than Danny la Rue on a good night.

Moreover, we need a "framework" that is clear, concise and flexible enough to allow for inspectors to use professional judgments when working with schools of widely differing circumstances. It would also be useful to produce outcomes that suggest methods of improvement rather than leaving the school to it.

On all these counts Ofsted now fails: the most destructive features being the issue that schools do not know if they will get a team that will treat them fairly and not, as increasingly happens, have a demoralising effect on them, especially those in the most challenging circumstances.

Superficial changes to Ofsted's unaccountable regime are no longer acceptable. If Education Secretary Michael Gove wishes to do one thing that would both encourage the teaching profession and get them "on side" with the changes he wishes to make to the system, he should dismantle Ofsted and replace it with a strong framework of accountability with HMI at its head.

Given Ofsted's budget of #163;215 million in 200910 and the ongoing work to drive down unnecessary costs this would make both economic and educational sense and I am sure it could be run without a board of very highly paid but anonymous "development" directors.

Tony Roberts, Admin and membership secretary, NAHT Lancashire branch, Preston.

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