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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 April 2007, 23:49 GMT 00:49 UK
Union head urging Ofsted reforms
Mary Bousted
Dr Bousted believes Ofsted "drives the education system"
Teachers "fear and loathe" education inspectorate Ofsted because of its "slash and burn approach", a teaching union conference will hear later.

"Schools are in a constant frenzy of inspection pressure," Dr Mary Bousted, head of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, is to tell delegates.

She will call for Ofsted's role to be changed, adding that its inspections are "surplus to requirements".

She will say performance in England should be monitored in a different way.

At present we have a confusing mess of accountabilities. This needs to be sorted out
Dr Mary Bousted
Association of Teachers and Lecturers

The key to the inspections in future could be new school improvement partners, who are advisers, serving head teachers or consultants allocated to schools by their local authorities.

They could monitor a school's performance, provide practical support for improvement and advise the local authority on any intervention needed.

Dr Bousted will tell delegates at the conference in Bournemouth: "I am not arguing that teachers should not be accountable for their work.

"I am not arguing that schools should not be accountable for their standards.

"But at present we have a confusing mess of accountabilities. This needs to be sorted out."

'Pick up the pieces'

The "driving force" behind what happens in England's schools is Ofsted and not the government, she will add.

"Ministers' words are wasted unless what they want is included in the Ofsted inspection framework.

"The Ofsted inspection process shapes the forms and content of teaching and learning in our schools.

"It drives the education system at every level."

She will say: "Teachers fear and loathe Ofsted because of its slash and burn approach - air-lift in the inspector, pore over the school-level data, have a cursory look around, come to a judgement, and then air-lift out, leaving the school to pick up the pieces."

Despite recent changes to the system of inspections, schools were still burdened by the whole process, she said.

Complaints

Ofsted recently conceded that half of the appeals against its inspectors' judgements were upheld, at least in part.

But it says only a small proportion of inspections are challenged.

And chief inspector Christine Gilbert has received complaints from teachers that the new inspections are too "light touch".

Teachers who are confident in their abilities resent the fact that their lessons are not observed, because inspectors' time in school is limited and focuses on managers' self-evaluation.

The number of schools judged to be failing remained steady last term - even though expectations have been raised.

In her speech, Dr Bousted will also call for national pay and conditions for school support staff.

These education workers have been "failed" by most local authorities who have left them at the bottom of the pay scale, she will claim.




SEE ALSO
Half of appeals to Ofsted upheld
16 Mar 07 |  Education
Ofsted chief invites complaints
06 Feb 07 |  Education
Extent of school failure disputed
17 Oct 06 |  Education

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