Friday, 24 October 2014

On Ofsted and superheads

 Certainly those "closest to the coalface", as Zoe Williams says, "find it hard to trust the impartiality of Ofsted`s findings".(The entire schools inspection culture is the problem,20/10/14) Probably, like me, they have witnessed some accurate assessment of lessons by individual inspectors, but also spectacularly wrong judgements of schools and leaders; agreement, therefore, with Williams`s description of "the slavish respect for a handful of experts" as "preposterous" is likely to be widespread. Outperforming other schools does become a little less problematic when, having advance notice of the "specific date" of the inspection, "educational" trips can be organised for those pupils less inclined to see Ofsted inspections as an opportunity to impress!
     The arrival of the "superhead" as an educational phenomenon coincided with the relaxation of the dogged adherence to the  inclusion dogma, which had prevented previous heads suspending or expelling  troublemakers. Having the power to remove sixty or so of the worst behaved pupils in a new head`s first week undoubtedly will have had a calming influence on behaviour, but did not signify superior expertise or prowess.Turning schools around is never achieved by strong leadership alone, but involves the co-operation and commitment of the teaching and auxiliary staff as a whole. Clearly it wasn`t only the concept of "average" with which Gove struggled!


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