If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
After reading your article on the new Ofsted framework I was reminded of when, in my 20s, I had a Reliant van, the same type Del Boy has in Only Fools and Horses.
The van began to have problems after I serviced it. To solve them I replaced the carburettor. Little improvement. I replaced the petrol tank. No improvement. I replaced the distributor, plug leads and timing belt. Still no improvement.
I had tried everything I could think of – so I rechecked what I had replaced during the service. I found three out of four spark plugs were faulty.
This is how I view Ofsted: 75 per cent of the changes brought in are faulty and ill thought-out, and badly affect performance. Teachers then start tinkering with everything they do, only to find there is little or no improvement – or worse, things go downhill.
Sensible staff ignore the request for immediate change and carefully recheck their systems. If they find little or nothing wrong, they leave well alone.
Peter Doherty Retired teacher
An inspector calls
Your Ofsted article (The Teacher January/February) reminded me of when I was in a primary school in Staffordshire waiting to accompany a member giving evidence to a disciplinary investigation.
It was dinner time and the children were filing past, going into the dining room. One little chap looked at me and said very politely: ”Hello Mr Inspector”. Ofsted had been at the school recently. I wasn’t sure whether to be pleased that he thought I looked important or gutted that I looked like an Ofsted inspector.
Vic Goodwin Division secretary, Staffordshire NUT
Jaw dropping judgements
With new head of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshaw coming up with a new way of undermining the work we do, it seems we must not forget that Ofsted is not the only problem we face. Possibly far more insidious is the huge army of ‘Ofsted-trained’ inspectors who have more impact and less accountability in what they do.
In the space of one week I heard these two examples from close colleagues and friends.
A young colleague went through an Ofsted inspection three weeks after starting a new job in January. In the feedback the inspector said there was nothing he could suggest to improve the lesson, which had been impressive. However, he hadn’t been in the classroom “long enough” to be able to grade her lesson outstanding, so she would have to settle for good.
Another colleague described an Ofsted-trained consultant who had said her year 6 library lesson could only be regarded as inadequate, as for half an hour the children had been “just reading”.
I am bewildered as to which of these examples is worse, and wonder if readers could help?
Dennis Charman London
Campaigning for the book
I would like to invite NUT members to join the Campaign for the Book in a lobby of Parliament on 13 March. We will be calling on MPs to take action to sustain and develop library services.
There will be a rally starting at 11.30am at Central Hall Westminster, then we will start lobbying MPs at 2.30pm.
Library services have borne the brunt of public spending cuts since the coalition took office in 2010. Of 4,612 libraries in the UK, an estimated 10 per cent are either closed or under threat. The
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The editor welcomes your letters but reserves the right to edit them. Write to: Your letters, The Teacher, NUT, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD or email email@example.com.
Letters for the May/June issue should reach us no later than 16 April.
Please note we cannot print letters sent in without name and postal address (or NUT membership number), though we can withhold details from publication if you wish.