Friday, 30 September 2011

Busy, busy, busy....

Just to explain the lack of posts, I've been busy working, writing and sadly positing on political blogs about issues in education.

I wish I didn't feel I had to but I feel that someone should and if not me then who?

Hey ho.

But on a much more positive note one of my jobs has been to research and write this course:

It's given me a context within which to focus my attention on re-analysing the emerging technological infrastructure which can support mathematics education.

What I see being reality in 3-5 years time inspires me. 

In my crystal ball I see the integration of systems which track students progress with both axiomatic and personal skills in mathematics and to which all stakeholders can contribute together.  I see interactive teaching systems which can automatically populate elements of this system.  And I see accreditation based on such a system which can replace SATs with much more worthwhile, robust, diverse and meaningful low-stakes accreditation.

The fundamental elements are all now in place...... now I just have to figure out how to make others see what I see.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Ofsted part 9: A tough reality of the job.

When there is substantial failure, as there will sometimes be in public services no matter how hard we try, there is always great personal pain which is most effectively dealt with if somebody carries the can by being prepared to lose their job.  When individual inspectors defend their jobs too actively when there has clearly been substantial failure on their watch a regulator loses credibility.

For all sorts of reasons, schools have become overly deferential to the process and conclusions of inspection to the extent where judgements of doubtful validity with potentially very negative consequences are not properly challenged.  We need processes which expect there may be challenges to potentially contentious judgements and plan to allow such challenges to be constructive processes of  growth in understanding for both the school and the inspector.

In essence I am saying here that the recruitment process for the inspectorate should actively seek out those who would not be afraid to leave their jobs should that appear to be the right thing to do.  There are plenty of such people in education and I have known many who have become inspectors.  But sadly they seem too often to rapidly leave inspection and there is little evidence of their presence among those who define policy direction at Ofsted.

Ofsted should only employ people in core roles who can command the personal and professional respect and trust of our most dedicated and able headteachers.  If that trust breaks down and cannot be properly restored within a reasonable time the inspector be removed, preferable of their own volition.  In other words they should be accountable to the very best in education rather than to themselves.

Schools should only employ headteachers who can command the personal and professional respect and trust of their most dedicated and able teachers.  If that trust breaks down and cannot be properly restored within a reasonable time the headteacher should leave and our inspectors should be there to help in that process if necessary.  At present too often it is the case that a school falls to rock bottom at which point the staff and governors organise the removal of the head.  Then Ofsted turn up and hang around for the next couple of years in order to take the credit for the improvement the staff then bring about.

It's not blooming rocket science.  Is is?  Let's strip out all those processes of inspection which protect inspectors who are not up to the job and which are not needed by those who are and replace them with structures used by credible regulators.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Ofsted part 8: How could a purpose-led inspectorate effectively report on the quality of provision?

A purpose-led inspectorate of the type described here could report on the extent to which schools are reaching the high floor standard specified.

It could also provide detailed qualitative reports on innovative and exemplary practice, which is currently often barely acknowledged. To have access to such published information would be of great benefit to many stakeholders in education.

Where there is a clear argument for their being specific high standards to which schools could or should aspire, these could be provided by other agencies and quality assured and reported on by an education inspectorate.

Pages with lists of numbers would be lost.  Academic and political reviews of practices in inspection and regulation conclude that this would be beneficial to the quality of the services being provided by the organisations being inspected.