Friday, June 27, 2008

Destructive school inspections

You can probably tell I read the Times this morning and another story that struck a chord was Melanie web's rant against school inspections, or as she describes them: the malevolent web that traps our teachers.

"Above all, it seemed as if Ofsted and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education (in Scotland) had, like malevolent spiders, woven a sticky web of bureaucracy...inspection wasn't an exercise in validation; it was about a profession that had started to eat itself.

I was told the kind of stories that do not normally circulate outside families - the private misery of dedicated people; young teachers with flair denied promotion; unnecessary early retirements; hugely experienced head teachers brought to the edge of breakdown by the “heartless bastards” who came in and decreed that whatever they did wasn't good enough...

Even more chillingly, I was told about the new breed of teacher that has emerged, genetically altered to thrive in such an culture."

Dissection by inspection leads to a culture where there is huge pressure on even the most gifted teachers to pretend things are better than they are. The risk and consequences of a poor Ofsted report are too high, so the cracks are papered over, problems (which can't be admitted too lest the school be labeled a failure) fester, teachers and children lose out.

Our education system is, and has been for too long, more about sustaining the huge bureaucratic educational infrastructure than nurturing the children it is charged with educating.

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