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Pricey Nadhim Zahawi, please kind out Ofsted’s lack of humanity. There’s no excuse | Michael Rosen


As you preside over the bewildering and nonsensical inconsistency of mask-wearing in colleges, I believed I’d distract you with one other matter of nice significance: the behaviour of Ofsted inspectors.

As all of us concerned in colleges in England know, we work in a territory policed by a triumvirate: Ofsted, the league tables and the Sats outcomes. There aren’t any Covid-like press conferences the place representatives of those three stand at lecterns being quizzed by journalists. Why not? In any case, at key moments within the yr (like GCSE Handwringing Day or Worldwide Efficiency Comparability and Sneering Day) schooling in colleges is offered as if it have been a pandemic of decline.

Maybe we’re imagined to consider that the three components of the triumvirate work independently of one another, doing good, within the method of Oxfam, Christian Assist and Youngsters in Want, although with you on the helm. However should you had needed to invent a set-up that was as undemocratic as potential and as unrepresentative of the folks working in it, you’d be onerous pushed to beat it.

Proper now Ofsted is inflicting specific concern. Did you see final week’s Guardian article, ‘I can’t undergo it once more’: headteachers give up over brutal Ofsted inspections, and the readers’ letters that adopted? When you missed them, please have a look. They paint an image of a career in misery. Headteachers say Ofsted inspectors are refusing to have in mind the results of Covid on colleges. The pinnacle of Lancaster Royal grammar faculty, Dr Chris Pyle, says that some latest Ofsted experiences “exclude all particular references to the pandemic”.

As I’d hope you’ll acknowledge, the affect of the sickness itself, the absences, the casualties, the lockdown and the web educating has been a trauma felt acutely by faculty communities. Of what profit can or not it’s for Ofsted to show up at a college and trample over individuals who have skilled such excessive stress and, in some circumstances, loss and bereavement?

The very fact is that this high-handed method is bred by the construction and phrases of reference of Ofsted. The concept a decide, prosecution and jury arrive at some point at a college, at brief discover, conduct a trial after which go away is a poor method to run schooling. In my faculty visits nowadays, I additionally rush out and in – although often I give them a bit extra discover of my arrival! However I’m not inspecting lecturers, I’m doing that very non-Ofsteddy factor of coming in to help lecturers and pupils. Whereas I’m there, I usually hear from lecturers about Ofsted visits. The one theme I hear over and over is that they really feel the inspectors weren’t sympathetic to the particular circumstances of the college. It’s as if inspectors come briefed with a notion that lecturers are dangerous folks making excuses for their very own incompetence. So the report that some inspectors don’t wish to hear concerning the expertise of Covid got here as no shock to me.

One headteacher informed me an Ofsted inspector complained that the 12 months 6 outcomes have been exhibiting a major decline. The headteacher identified that the dip in scores coincided with the sudden arrival of a cohort of refugee kids, none of whom spoke English. In different phrases, the composition of the category had modified between one set of scores and the following. Although the refugee kids had made big advances within the few months that they had been right here, the impact on the information was that the scores have been “low” in an absolute sense. What did the inspector say to the headteacher? That it was “no excuse”. In Ofsted’s world, information can exist independently of the folks being measured. Please, Mr Zahawi, take heed to the lecturers and headteachers within the Guardian article and the letters. The system just isn’t benefiting lecturers, pupils or households, and it’s all predicated on the concept that the one method to enhance schooling is thru top-down hectoring.

How fascinating to see that your authorities is making an attempt to deal with Covid by encouraging folks to decide on the best path, whether or not that be the sporting of masks, getting vaccinated or holding events. This method is way most popular, I’ve heard ministers saying on the radio, to creating such measures obligatory. And but with regards to schooling, you and your colleagues drop this libertarian method and go for the large stick. Inform us: why ought to schooling be excluded out of your libertarian strategies?

We actually do need to make our minds up whether or not we predict schooling must be about consent or coercion. Right here we’re, within the midst of two crises threatening humanity: illness and local weather change, and the most effective we will provide you with for colleges is the authoritarian triumvirate. Does it ever offer you pause for thought {that a} coercive system won’t be one of the best ways to foster artistic and questioning minds, the sort of minds we desperately want to unravel humanity’s issues?

Yours, Michael Rosen



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