`Moderate' union calls for Ofsted to be abolished

FRAN ABRAMS

Education Correspondent

The schools inspection system should be abolished and the Chief Inspector of Schools should listen to his critics or resign, teachers said yesterday.

The call from the normally-moderate Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) for the scrapping of Ofsted is likely to be followed by stronger demands for boycotts of inspections from other unions meeting over the Easter weekend.

Teachers have become increasingly vocal in their protests over inspections as a four-year programme designed to cover all schools by 1998 continues. The chief inspector, Chris Woodhead, has been heavily criticised for what the profession sees as political bias. His comment that 15,000 bad teachers should be sacked caused outrage, as did a pamphlet he wrote for a right- wing think tank, Politeia, in which he questioned the future of local education authorities.

Andrew Mitchell, director of music at Mr. Woodhead's old school, Wallington Grammar in Sutton, Surrey, said inspections caused teachers great anguish.

"If there has been a bigger instrument devised in the history of education to unnecessarily stress teachers I don't know what it is," he said.

The conference in Torquay voted almost unanimously for Ofsted to be abolished if the Government could not re- establish its independent reputation.

Peter Smith, general secretary of the union, said no one was against independent inspection, but Ofsted had lost the confidence of the teaching profession.

"I can't envisage Ofsted gaining the professional credibility and confidence that it needs if Mr Woodhead remains as Her Majesty's Chief Inspector - unless he is prepared, against all recent evidence, to listen to the criticisms that are being made and take them seriously," he said.

The Schools Minister, Robin Squire, who addressed the conference yesterday, tried to defend the inspection system but received a cool reception. Ofsted was the key to raising standards, he said, but poor schools could not be allowed to continue.

"Any suggestion that Ofsted should be abolished has to be set against what was in place prior to its creation, which would take us back to a time when primary schools in particular would not be inspected more than once every 200 years.

"I don't see any need to pull Chris Woodhead back into line," he said.

t About 1,000 small primary schools could be exempted from next year's league tables of test results for 11-year-olds, Mr Squire said yesterday.

Responding to criticism that figures from schools with only five or ten 11-year-olds could identify individual pupils, he promised to consult teachers and other education professionals on the move.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there