Ofsted put in Special Measures: the blind leading the sighted
|The Watchmen: now hiring. No superpowers required.|
Reports in the TES indicate that:
Tribal, one of the major firms that carries out inspections on behalf of the watchdog, employs at least five lead inspectors who do not have qualified teacher status (QTS), it has emerged.Let me put a frame around this: the custodians of our profession, the ones who make the judgements on us as we sweat and fret and plan and mug for their pleasure, desperate to catch their eye with a flash of learning ankle...some of these aren't trained as teachers. So what use are they to anyone?
It is not infrequently observed (at least by me; my sources are impeccable) that many people who occupy public office are unemployable in any other sector, at least until they have frotted their careers in a shameless, foaming dash towards the feathered cushion of an advisory role in munitions or finance. Career politicians give me a spastic duodenum. This state of over-promoted incompetence could only exist in a bureaucracy; now we see its tentacles in the inspection system.
|Your inspection team are ready for you.|
Lay inspectors are history (non-teaching inspection team members who were brought along to give a non-teaching perspective), and I'll raise a glass to that. But now it seems the institution remains in a ghostly, ghastly form. What's worse, if Ofsted don't even have data on how many of its inspectors have reached QTS, then this isn't evidence of a few slip-ups; this is structural; this is intrinsic to the recruitment process.
What other profession would suffer to be assessed by people who couldn't even do the thing upon which they sit in judgement? Can you imagine a surgeon being critiqued by the janitor? The average spectator at the Farnborough air show is about as qualified to assess the pitch, roll and yaw of the Red Arrows, as most people are to assess the minutia of education. Sure, you might be able to say, 'Bum move' if they hammer into a hillside, but even then they couldn't determine if the failure was inevitable or clownish. Good teaching is an art that in the end, it takes a good teacher to assess. Looking at data is only one piece of puzzle, and information without context is just that: information. In order to be understanding, it has to be triangulated with other variables, the most important of which is your appreciation of what's going on in the classroom.
But if you want us to respect them, listen to them, and value them, then we need more than have-a-go hard-ons with clipboards and check boxes. As others have commented, many teachers have often noted that upon asking what they could do to improve their lessons, many inspectors are reluctant to reply. Well now we know why: it's because some of them don't know.
So here's my Teacher Voice Manifesto: ignore Ofsted inspections. I don't mean fly your career down the toilet, because I care if you can feed yourself. What I mean is that you should free yourself from the shackles of inspection fever, the anxiety that pervades and perverts schools and classrooms, and ruins learning. Stop caring about them. And turn inwards and outwards: inwards as you ask yourself, what should I be doing to be a great teacher?, and outwards as you watch other people to find out some answers. That's the key to being a great teacher. By reducing the standards of learning to formulae and quantitative outcomes, we have strip-mined the soul of one the most important jobs in the world. Well, to Hell with it, and to Hell with them.
|Out of picture: 'F-*-C-K-O-F-F'|
I am ashamed to be in a profession that is so poorly tended by the panjandrums of bureaucratopia. For the sake of the good inspectors that do exist (and who must be aware of this Hellish pact between the incompetent and the affordable), for teachers, for the profession and for the children who are always at the end of this beggary, Ofsted needs to get itself out of Special Measures. In Alan Moore's Watchmen graphic novel, the enduring motif of the narrative was a Smiley badge with a streak of blood: a tragic joke.
Ofsted, we need you to be better than that.