Ofsted and a political agenda

I have a mate who has taught at a FE College in the area for approaching 25 years. He is an excellent teacher who knows his subject- History extremely well. In fact it’s a subject of some annoyance to him that he has to spend a great deal of time addressing large gaps in the knowledge of the students such as pointing out where Germany is on a map before he can run a class on the First World War. He told me the other day that he is expecting the College to fail its inspection. One factor in the apparent down grading of the number of students leaving as a consequence of EMA being removed a consequence of coalition policy and little to do with any systemic failing in the college.

Another friend of mine who has taught at a Primary School in the west midlands, which has been put in special measures, is mystified how his teaching skills can be judge excellent one year and failing the next. He has since left the profession. There is a move to turn the school into an academy and there seems to be a successful campaign to move the older teachers out. Newer teachers are also cheaper.

He has had OFSTED inspections in the past, which he mocks as essentially middle class women from Herefordshire passing judgement on an inner city Black Country very mixed school

Another friend in a FE College in the East Midlands and who has recently retired also tells me that he believes OFSTED is an increasingly political agenda and is essentially operating as an agent of Michael Gove’s educational policy- a sort of later day Renfield to Gove’s Count Dracula always wanting to do the Master’s bidding. This seems particularly the case in the policy of greater confrontation with teachers and the dismissive language that the head of OFSTED Michael Wilshaw has adopted over the new regime of inspection

Dr Simon Gibbs from the School of Education in Newcastle on Tyne wrote in the ‘Guardian’ on 24th November 2011: ‘Simply making the inspection regime tougher is unlikely to be helpful, particularly in schools that are already struggling. Hammering schools and teachers for perceived failings will be counterproductive. Teachers who believe they can do well are more likely to be successful than those who do not. Will condemning schools for their perceived failings improve the moral and teaching qualities of teachers”.

And there is a general view that is taken in education that OFSTED will somehow produce inspection results to be kind to those politically inconvenient failing academies by reporting positively on them

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