Gove and Ofsted. A plague on both their houses.
Recent media stories have claimed that Gove and Wilshaw have fallen out with each other after a series attacks on OFSTED by ‘Gove allies’ in right wing think tanks such as a Civitas and the Policy Exchange.
Most teachers were probably delighted to see Wilshaw threatening to resign. And to be honest some of the points raised about problems with OFSTED are absolutely true. OFSTED is not fit for purpose. Its judgements are often suspect and the cadre of mainly privatised inspectors have a vested interest – £1000 a day fees for a start – in perpetuating the ‘discourse of failure’ that lies at the heart of the whole OFSTED project.
Ever since the first Chief Inspector, Chris Woodhead, claimed there were 20,000 failing teachers, OFSTED has been used as a tool to undermine the profession. In contrast to the previous HMI inspectors who acted as critical friends, OFSTED has focused on blaming and shaming schools and teachers.
Both Wilshaw and Woodhead have revelled in their ‘Dirty Harry’ bully boy approach to the profession, with Wilshaw claiming that head teachers weren’t doing their job properly if teachers were happy!
This culture, along with league tables and high stakes testing has been central to the attacks on education. It is been used to undermine comprehensive, democratic and progressive education. In recent years it has also been a key driver of privatisation as ‘failure’ is used to ‘academise’ schools.
But the attacks on OFSTED from right wing think tanks should be treated with extreme caution.
Their argument is that OFSTED is too left wing! They believe OFSTED promotes ‘child-centred education’ and is too harsh on ‘didactic methods of teaching’. These people really want a return to streaming, grammars schools and probably a good deal of caning although they wouldn’t admit that public.
One argument is that they want a separate inspectorate for academies and free schools. This is because they believe OFSTED has been too harsh on free school like the New Discovery School in Crawley which failed spectacularly. In a quite bizarre logic Dave Green, the Director of Civitas argues that “free schools should be allowed to innovate without Ofsted imposing failed doctrines”.
It is easy to dismiss these people as nutters but they are a powerful voice in education precisely because they have the ear of Gove. Although Gove has attempted to distance himself from them, the evidence suggests they have real influence on policy. They are his ‘outriders’. They use the dark arts of spin in the back rooms of power to humiliate and intimidate their opponents.
Gove and Wilshaw are like a pair of education gangsters. Enjoy their little falling out, but remember the key to getting rid of both is to fight for a different education system altogether. That means taking national strike action and building a National Campaign for Education.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized by jessedwardsnut.