The Guardian view on Ofsted’s yearly report: structures do not matter

Tright here are a number of factors the chief inspector of schools can do with the platform that comes with the publication of his yearly report. He might use it to goad teachers to higher work. Or he can use it to carpet the education secretary. He may possibly even stage to the way colleges are obtaining much better and thank everybody concerned for their efforts just before moving on to some measured and nuanced criticism, although that is not element of the Ofsted culture. Sir Michael Wilshaw, launching his report right now right after a bruising year of allegations of extremism in schools and rumours about his personal future, chose to infuriate his total client base in the area of half an hour. Of course, his recognition that outcomes are a lot more influenced by the high quality of teaching and college leadership than the fashion of the college itself is welcomed. His criticism of the way academy autonomy can translate into harmful isolation when things go incorrect is an essential stage. But his assault on slipping standards in secondary schools was only a very partial account of what is taking place.

Sir Michael – nevertheless in his task – should have relished showing Michael Gove – no longer education secretary – that the schooling establishment Mr Gove famously dismissed as “the blob” can bite. He manufactured severe factors – “a new nameplate and a portentous motto” do not translate automatically into a much better college – that will make uncomfortable reading through for Mr Gove’s successor, Nicky Morgan, as she tries to calm teachers whilst preserving the legacy of his college reforms. Sir Michael emphasised the value of help for colleges just before they get into trouble, particularly people in areas exactly where most other schools are struggling. He attacked a notably Govean scheme, College Direct, which recruits trainee teachers right into classrooms, for concentrating the talent in colleges that are presently profitable, leaving individuals where they are truly needed deprived of very good younger teachers. Some of these weaknesses have been recognised: in September a new degree of help, regional college commissioners, was launched, and David Cameron has promised that what was billed as a hit squad would be on permanent standby to tackle college failure.

If this punitive approach, which commences in Whitehall but is echoed by Ofsted, ever had its hour, it is previous. As a single teacher blogged just lately, politicians want modify to come about quickly when colleges need to have it to happen meticulously. Ofsted is harsh to criticise schools for slipping up when the inspection suggestions are often transformed at short recognize – the newest idea is for pupils’ exercise books to be assessed – although Mr Gove’s determination to introduce a lot more rigour into public exams has depressed benefits for the previous two years. Nor, when recruitment is getting to be a severe challenge and the program is on the brink of a demographic bulge, was it a valuable intervention. Possibly Sir Michael felt it was a essential backdrop towards which to make his situation for much better techniques of enhancing colleges. As the Trojan horse experience in Birmingham showed final summer time, neither neighborhood authority manage, nor remote control from the centre, can be relied on to work.

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