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Chalk Talk: Teachers make friends with their enemy's enemies


Adversity does make strange bedfellows at times. There's a motion at the National Union of Teachers conference calling for the absolition of Ofsted.

No surprise: the union has been going on for years about how the inspectorate makes its members' lives hell. Just read through it, though, and you see it praying in aid of the right-wing think-tanks Civitas and Policy Exchange (founded by none other than one Michael Gove himself).

David Green, CEO of Civitas. argues that Ofsted's ethos "is still influenced by the desire to enforce compliance with centrally-imposed targets rather than to encourage the professional development of school leaders and teachers". And Policy Exchange found that lesson observations – which take up the majority of an inspection – are "neither valid or reliable in their present form".

The movers add, though: "Conference would be wary of the motivations of any Conservative party member who recommends the abolition of Ofsted because without the existence of an independent mechanism to inspect schools the Government could have absolute power over the fate of our schools." That almost sounds as if the NUT is coming round to living with Ofsted, but no, the motion continues: "However, conference largely agrees with the statements of those people above." A case of education folk, united, will never be defeated?

First, we had the Independent Schools Council publishing a report on how much money they plough into the economy (saving the state from educating so many children and employing lots of teachers). Then the National Union of Students claimed its conference last week boosted Liverpool's economy. What next? Academy chain heads criticised for lavish spending saying they're keeping restaurant and bar staff in employment?