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Thursday, 9 November, 2000, 12:29 GMT
Chris Woodhead: Fond farewell or good riddance?
Chris Woodhead's resignation as England's chief inspector of schools has divided opinion just as his time in office did.
Mr Woodhead will step down on 30 November to become a leader writer for the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
For some an educational hero has been forced out after years fighting the entrenched interests of the education professionals.
For others it's good riddance to a man who has demoralised the very people who have to teach our children.
Tell us what you think. Was Chris Woodhead good or bad for education?
This debate is now closed. Your reaction:
Mr Woodhead was an authoritarian for whom there were no shades of grey.
Does anyone miss this type of person?
Chris Woodhead did much to reduce teacher morale and deter people from the teaching profession. Meanwhile, the Government has spent much money trying to entice people into teaching. Did it never occur to them that in order to get rid of bad teachers, it was rather necessary to have people available to take their place in the classroom?
Robert Leggat, UK
I had no strong opinions about him either way but having noted the sort of people who are rejoicing at his going, I now know he must be a very good chap indeed! Incidentally, I am a retired teacher.
Chris Woodhead has done a good job but the Government is unlikely to find anyone of the same calibre prepared to challenge the producer interests in education. It is now time for parents to be empowered to decide which schools are performing by giving them an education voucher for each child. The creation of a free market in education will force schools to compete for children.
Paul R, UK
The debate over Chris Woodhead, seems to me, to be diverting attention from much more important issues. Each Ofsted inspection costs a great deal of money. Surely this could be put to better use. Schools are badly in need of enough textbooks to go round, smaller class sizes, additional teacher hours and, in some cases, adequate accommodation. The whole Ofsted process is stressful and demoralising - not just for teachers but for their students too. It is also worth noting that schools do have an appraisal system where the performance of teachers is evaluated and measures are put into place if an individual is not doing a satisfactory job.
From my teaching experience I feel that teachers, and other school staff, who deal directly with the children's needs day in and day out, always have each child's best interests at heart. Unfortunately the excessive and unrealistic demands from the Government have led to increased pressure, without enough support, on school management, teaching staff and the children themselves. This has created an environment of stress and an increase in unnecessary work at all levels. There are thousands of dedicated teachers and children who are achieving their full potential. It is about time they were rewarded instead of being blamed for trying their best to teach in an inadequate education system, over which they have no control.
John Briginshaw, USA/ UK
As a frequent reader of the BBC education website and occasional visitor to the Ofsted site,
I have read with dismay and horror of the inquisitorial developments in UK education.
Unfortunately similar thinking and practices have been emerging in the NSW system and elsewhere in Australia.
I remember the inspiration that drew me to teaching and sustained me in my early years while I developed skills and knowledge
in a complex vocation in which what is correct in one context can be less than effective in another. Very rarely did I find
in education the situation where one size (or approach) fits all.
I am shocked and saddened to hear that Mr Woodhead is leaving his position as Chief Inspector of Schools to become a leader writer for the Daily Telegraph. I am quite surprised by his choice of newspaper as I had always assumed that the vile little man was a die-hard Communist.
One of the few people within Phoney Tony's establishment that actually spoke up to make things better, to take on the teaching unions and tell them that some of the teachers were no good. If I am bad at my job only my company suffers. If a teacher is bad at their job every student that studies under them suffers. Because of this, firstly good teachers should be paid more, and secondly bad teachers should be rooted out and fast.
Carl Gavin, Asia
Isn't it strange? The last time I felt this good was when Maggie left No. 10!!!
Blatantly incompetent teaching and mismanagement of schools has ruined the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people. All the teachers unions and the educational establishment seem to care about is protecting the status quo. Without Chris Woodhead, hundreds of thousands more young lives would have been ruined.
Goodbye to bad rubbish - Mr Woodhead, you have failed your inspection.
John Crawshaw, UK
I attended my school's PTA meeting and the Governor's AGM at my son's school last night. I have never seen so many happy, smiling faces amongst the staff!
Both schools are due an inspection soon, one of them this month!
Many people have criticised his confrontational style but you have to ask what good is a Chief Inspector of Schools who is sycophantic to the teaching unions? To improve, you first must admit areas of underperformance.
This resignation will allow the Blair camp to once again put in place another Labour/ Tony crony.
Mark Parkinson, UK
As a parent with children at a school
containing blatantly incompetent teachers,
I feel we have lost the only ally we
ever had in the educational system.
No doubt the Government will appoint
one of its cronies to replace him and
incompetent teachers will breathe
a sigh of relief.
I often wonder about the sanity of a country that accepts without question the value of testing, training and competition in sports, but doubts their value in education.
Malcolm Pitkin, UK
It is clear that Chris Woodhead was only kept in place after the last election because New Labour wanted some tough credentials without having to go up against anyone who might give them a hard time in the opinion polls. They now realise that education and teaching are now nose diving into mass devastation and something drastic has to be done, as everything else they've tried (bursaries, fast track, performance pay) has only made things worse. I don't believe for one minute that it was Woodhead's decision alone to go.
J. Butler, UK
Teaching like any other profession has outstanding people and the incompetent. The real issue in this is that there has been a breakdown in discipline in schools. Let's address the reasons for that and stop trying to lay blame.
I think that now he is gone we need to spend less time talking about what an awful or nice man he was and concentrate more on what we should do to achieve the best for our children's education. I think that the British people should choose who they want as an OFSTED inspector, as it would give the individual a more secure backing to follow his policies, not the politics of the current government - which I see as a disaster for all forms of education. Let the people decide who should be the next inspector and let him do his (or her) job in peace.
Heather Williamson, England
I am sorry to see him go as I think that much of what he said was true. I know many wonderful teachers, but common sense suggests that there will be some poorly performing people in the profession.
As I believed one of Mr Blair's first mistakes was to not only give Mr Woodhead a new contract, but to increase his salary. I cheered when the news broke. This man did more to demoralise the teaching profession than any other. And when he should have been encouraging the government to reduce the mountains of paperwork associated with education he actively encouraged the production of more. Had his intellect been as large as his ego, no doubt he might have gained some respect.
I'm glad to see Woodhead go. He was appointed to be responsible for standards of education, but who decided that his standards were the ones that we as a country wanted for our schools? There is the contentious issue of his relationship with a student at the school at which he was teaching (I, too, taught at Gordano school) I have never seen laid out the standards we expect for our schools, and a check that Woodhead's pronouncements were in line with them. Let's have a clear statement of intent for our education system, and an audit of the record of the next prospective head of OFSTED to ensure s/he is in accord with them.
Trefor Roberts, Australia
We are seeing the benefit of Woodhead's strategy - teachers and teaching are improving and there are more benefits to come. Teachers were long overdue for a wake-up call. Chris Woodhead sounded it.
I was amazed to hear Chris Woodhead say on Friday's Today programme that teachers had helped improve schools. Thank you for some long overdue credit. Let's hope it's not too late to improve morale and recruitment. I can't imagine many headteachers will welcome his offer to speak on their behalf in the future. Watch out for him standing as an MP for the Conservatives at the next election.
I know of no teachers who will mourn the departure of Chris Woodhead. Students learn best when criticism is constructive and praise lavish, the fact that Chris Woodhead never applied this to the teaching force goes some way to explaining why morale and recruitment are so poor. I realised recently that during my 20 year teaching career only two of my colleagues have made it to retirement age!
Alex Moran, UK
Sorry, but his glasses did it for me.
What was he hoping for? A place in a well-known soap?
I'm glad I wasn't taught maths (or history) by the teacher who claims that Chris Woodhead criticised 150,000 teachers as not being up to the job - in fact it was 15,000. Yet another indication of low standards in the teaching profession, perhaps?
John Sparrow, UK
Of course the Lefties are delighted - for 40 years they conspired to destroy education and learning in this country and hated having their stupidities pointed out and ridiculed.
Chris Woodhead is one of the very few public servants who is worth his salt and our children will be the real losers when he has gone.
He made the mistake of trying to make teachers accountable to someone other than themselves.
Ben Broadbent, England
Ofsted inspections were supposed to improve teaching standards. Judging by results, most schools do worse after an Ofsted inspection. These inspections are very stressful, demotivating, expensive (about £30,000; the cost of an additional teacher) and useless. They were a political knee-jerk reaction.
I doubt few tears will be shed for Mr Woodhead. He was obviously a man with a very high opinion of himself, and a low opinion of almost everyone else. Many of his pronouncements on the state of our overmanaged education system may well have been true, but a person in his position should have more regard for the way in which the message is put across. I'm sure I won't be the only person to think that he and the Daily Telegraph are welcome to each other.
James Denning, UK
Good riddance to Chris Woodhead - the man who said 150,000 teachers were incompetent. Teachers will shed no tears for him.
Mr Woodhead leaves the majority of teachers in a very worrying state of demoralisation and stress. All the teachers I know, including my partner, think seriously about leaving the profession every day. The workload has become immense and many many teachers do not believe they have the time to teach given all the paperwork.
Peter Cameron, Hong Kong
03 Nov 00 | Education
Woodhead wants freedom to speak out
03 Nov 00 | Education
Hague detects bad news for Labour
02 Nov 00 | Education
The man teachers love to hate
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