So yet again the head of OFSTED wants to reform his organisation, good schools to have less frequent inspections over a single day, and the rest to undergo more ‘in depth’ inspection to ‘raise standards’.
To be honest, in my eyes all this will achieve is to make those schools that have successfully pulled the wool over the inspectorates eyes less accountable to parents and students, whilst heaping even more pressures on those deemed by edict from above to be inadequate.
In 18 years of working in education I have seen the growth of management by numbers, pupils as consumers, and education as a measurable commodity. All of these things are counter to common sense, and take valuable, committed teachers away from what is ultimately most important, the students.
The OFSTED inspection regime amounts to nothing more than an elaborate game of cat and mouse. Like the friend who says ‘lets go play golf’ and then turns up with his badminton gear, the inspectorate moves the goal posts so often that I don’t think they know what good teaching is any more.
But its even deeper than that.
Politically, in our time of austerity our government wants to attribute a fiscal value to every penny spent. This is why we have league tables for hospitals and schools. Establish a framework, attribute its monetary value, and bobs your uncle you have your valuation. This than then be included in the countries ‘net worth’, adding to our GDP.
The problem is that we are not teaching consumers who are all identical, we are teaching people, with feelings, emotions, and behaviours, teachers too are human (well most of them!.
I think the mainstream may be finally cottoning on to the fact that these league tables are not worth the paper they are written on. They are not comparing like for like.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating the complete abolition of an inspectorate, what we need to do is to abandon management by numbers, abandon comparison between schools, and take a sympathetic look through the eyes of hard working teachers. Genuinely put the pupil first and not just pay lip service to the concept. You can have all the knowledge and teaching methods in the book, and mountains of meaningless data, but its all useless if you don’t put the student first. Lets cut the bureaucracy and get back to the fundamentals, the actual interaction that takes place between teacher and student.
Some things in the classroom can be measured (and by all means do so) but some can’t. Just because you cant show these on a piece of paper doesn’t make them any less valuable.