Monday, 24 June 2013

Failing and shameful OFSTED lets down students and schools

OFSTED's shameful announcement last week of its negatively biased judgments on schools in seaside towns and in rural areas was a cheap shot to sustain for itself government support for an education inspection system which is driven by what the political classes and big business interests judge to be a good education. The latter is an education which discourages imagination and free thinking in favour of jumping through hoops and conning by rote.   It is a system configured to provide the powerful with people prepared to toe the line, in the same way that many of the heads of our diminishing number of state schools do, for fear of being labelled as being in charge of " failing schools."

I do not for one moment believe these schools are failing their pupils but perhaps the problem for our schools in rural and littoral situations is that they are less well financially endowed than other schools. They may be the schools which can't afford to pay fat consultancy fees to off duty OFSTED inspectors so that they can carry out a MOCKSTED before an official inspection. So much for a random system of inspection. Yes folks, this actually happens. A system which should be random  can actually be rehearsed beforehand if your child's school can afford it. 

School in rural setting

So determined are some schools in attaining the targets set for this narrow form of education, that many children can find that rather than getting on with their education week after week in a calm, creative and industrious way in the company of their teachers they are now becoming the most observed people in the country. Imagine this. No don't imagine it, because it actually happens. Schools where the senior management of a school and its governors fall into line with the martinet regime favoured by our political masters set up programmes such as : week one, teachers and classes observed and assessed by senior management of the school ; week two, two days of MOCKSTED when off-duty OFSTED inspectors give the school an unofficial going over; week three, governors come into the school to observe and assess the teachers and the classes ; week  four, official OFSTED inspection takes place. The long term result of this : anxious teachers and so anxious children. 

School in seaside setting 

In relation to its recent proclamations, OFSTED failed to show basic human respect to the pupils and the teachers of the schools upon which it pronounced its dubious and probably spurious judgments.  OFSTED knew that its "conclusions" would cause headlines which would be upsetting and damaging to both pupils and teachers of these schools, but hey, why bother about a little thing like that when you can guarantee that OFSTED  is creating headlines that will delight a punitive education minister and a punitive government and allow OFSTED to spread its tentacles into other areas, like, for instance, the NHS. 

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