I started ranting into the ‘ether’ as therapy for my frustration with the mindless vandalism of DfE, OFSTED and SLT in schools. Vested interests, Political interests and self-interest have mangled a service to which I have given more than half of my life. Although there have been some improvements in parts of the ‘system’ the overall effect has been malign and destructive. As I enter the final years of my ‘career’ in teaching I see an increasingly iniquitous, chaotic, inefficient and barely more effective “system” that seems to me to be doomed to ever more radical reform to attempt to make this labyrinthine structure function acceptably.
So what has happened in the past year with the topics upon which I have spewed forth my bile?
An Inspector Called:
Fittingly, this blog began and ended with OFSTED inspections (see archive). The agency is no longer fit for purpose and should be replaced. I am about to see if the oft-claimed rhetoric that OFSTED has turned around failing schools is reality or cynical hyperbole. I will be blogging on this next year but early signs are dire.
The Dear Leaders:
Over the year I have observed even more of the worst practices of SLT. An assistant Head being part of an interview panel to examine ( and subsequently appoint) an immediate family member. More SLT away days in local hotels instead of school premises. More upgrades to equipment to bolster the hierarchy (SLT need a much better ‘phone than everyone else). Recently, I have seen some of these tendencies in middle managers: avoidance of personal accountability, choosing particular groups and courses, delegating to the point of abuse often with ITT students and more. Where I work it seems that integrity, honesty and openness are graces that have abandoned our Dear Leaders.
Lies, Damned Lies and Levels:
They were abolished at KS3. Or were they? Not where I work; they have taken an even more ridiculous turn with test scores applied to ‘conversion factors’ to produce sub-levels to track ‘progress’ against the (uniformly) interpolated End of Year Target to direct ‘interventions’. This “data” is King, it is also fictional nonsense that is still leading self-deluded middle and senior leaders down the rabbit-hole of an improvement dressed in the ’emperors new clothes’. Every year they look uncomprehendingly at the KS4 outcomes and fumble for straws to grasp at to explain the mismatch of their “data” and measured reality.
This is the only area where nonsense has not prevailed. The Great New Tablet strategy was abandoned (after thousands were spent), the resultant void is filled with teachers using technology where appropriate. I would never wish to teach again without a broadband linked laptop with projector, preferably with amplified sound and a means of projecting digital images from a linked camera, I would also prefer that all of my students have access to cameras, the www and publication applications. Unfortunately, at the moment the pendulum has swung too far the other way with a ‘phone ban!
#NTENRED Wish you were there:
I was inspired by the structure, the people and much of the content. I went to #REd14 and felt similarly uplifted. I will attend another session next year somewhere. I worry that Tom Bennet has ‘left the building’ to pursue an international stardom but see the recent research leads event as a hopeful sign.
The C Word:
Is ubiquitous. I am battered with its misuse weekly as managers of all kinds seek to impose uniformity (an evolutionary dead end) instead of congruence (an organisational necessity) and creativity (an evolutionary imperative). Consistency: I hate the word!
The reform was announced exactly as M. Cladingbowl suggested. I cannot imagine that the “consultation” will have any impact on this wrong-headed alteration and it seems that for the near future, OFSTED will be as destructive and unhelpful in rescuing struggling schools as hitherto; they will simply be an agent for closure.
I am scarred by this sort of event.
Take No Notice:
The full circle. The worst, most superficial and prejudicial inspection I have suffered. Oh how different from the days of investigation, dialog and consultation for improvement that I had experienced in the past. I will be seeing a lot more of OFSTED in future, and of course I will blog my spleen liberally.
One more year gone. How many more are in me I wonder?
Happy holiday everyone.