All Change Please!’s Little Read Blog

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In All Change Please!‘s recent post A double McSpin and large McLies, it reported on the shadow education secretary’s early progress, or rather the general lack of it. Last week things went from bad to worse as Tristram (no relation) Hunt voiced his opinions on that lovable old dinosaur called Ofsted. While of course he agreed, as any sensible politician would, that pointless box ticking was by definition A Very Bad Thing, he completely failed to go on to say that Ofsted itself was also currently A Very Bad Thing, revealing his lack of understanding of what the actual problems were and the atmosphere that now exists in our schools.

No OFSTED Hope From Tristram Hunt

Instead he made it clear, at some length, and in a way that suggested the teaching profession as a whole might believe otherwise, that inspections were important and necessary and as a result are solely responsible for promoting high standards amongst Very Bad Teachers. What he doesn’t seem to grasp is that it’s not inspection as such that’s the problem but the way Ofsted are currently conducting them with their current ‘The Big Bogeyman Might Be Coming To Get You In The Morning’ campaign of terror.

As some All Change Please! readers will know, especially if the have they have read About This Blog, it was once an Ofsted team inspector itself, albeit a somewhere disruptive one.  Back in those days, after its initial round of inspections, the message from Ofsted was for inspectors to lighten up, be more friendly and transparent, and informally indicate positive ways forward – an approach that All Change Please! revelled in, with its main regret being that it never had the opportunity to return some six months later to see how well things were improving and to offer further suggestions. Then one day back in 2002, it finally saw the light, or at least the new guidance and revised EFfing form, or Evaluation Form as it was more formally known, and decided the time had come to abandon the sinking ship.

Sadly it seems things are not about to get better after the next election.

Meanwhile in another unconnected incident All Change Please! came across an article in The Torygraph by Janet Daily Mail, whose brief acquaintance it once made back in 1985 – but that’s another story.

Maoist class war wrecked our state schools

This really is offensive, irresponsible and quite inexcusable journalism. Apparently it seems the reason our education system is failing is not, as you might have possibly wondered, because of the abolition of grammar schools and the introduction of comprehensives. No, instead, warming to her ‘Politics and Journalism of Fear’ agenda, Daley wants us to believe that up to now our teachers have been following the Maoist ‘principle of pride’ towards our working class culture, rather than preparing our children to raise their aspirations in order to become bankers, judges, politicians and lawyers (Hmm.. Perhaps she is not entirely mistaken?). But, wait for it, despite Mr Gove’s best efforts, the really horrifying problem that is emerging is that the new generation of upcoming teachers on its way into our schools has already been brainwashed during their own education by the previous generation of Maoist teachers, thus perpetuating this sorry state of affairs, presumably forever.  And what makes this even more surprising is that All Change Please! has been working in education for the past 35 years and has yet to meet its first Maoist teacher.

So there we have it. Believe what the politicians and the media tell you, and our schools are full of Marxist Enemies of Promise and members of the Chinese Communist Party, all of whom completely refuse to have anything to do with raising standards and expectations, or with any form of accountability.

Finally then,  ‘读万卷书不如行万里路’ as they say in China, which apparently translates as ‘Reading ten thousand books is not as useful as traveling ten thousand miles’, or its closest English equivalent which is ‘An ounce of practice is worth more than a pound of theory.’ Or, as Wikipedia suggests, it means: ‘Even the most useful theories cannot substitute practice.’ These Chinese folk really do seem to know what they are talking about, don’t they?

2 comments on “All Change Please!’s Little Read Blog

  1. It strikes me that the current approach to Ofsted – the idea of being able to ‘inspect quality’ into the process in the final stages, is fundamentally flawed – but also very similar to a misconception in software development: that by having a ‘testing’ phase in the end you can somehow increase quality. Of course, the only thing really happening is that you are ‘accepting’ and measuring defects, with a focus on failure, rather than success. This results in a bi-polarised competitive system (school vs. Ofsted as opposed to school working with Ofsted) where both sides attempt to ‘game’ each other in order to ‘win’, resulting in increased failure demand rather than increased performance.

    The only way to really change quality of teaching is to ‘build quality’ in to the process from the beginning. In this case, it would perhaps make again sense to take a leaf out of the agile/lean movements books and teach education professionals to have retrospectives to regularly/weekly reflect on their processes and how they might improve them themselves, rather than have someone else continually tell them what to do. Again, this relies on the ability of the government to ‘relinquish’ their micro management of teachers, and empower them to take back control of their discipline, something I very much doubt would happen.

    Deming had some very strong ideas on measuring performance, surrounding statical variance, that showed that rather than attributing failure to individuals, 90% of the time you could prove it was the variance in the system that was the cause and by resolving this variance and finding the systemic cause, you could in fact increase everyone’s performance. His other observation was that the fear of performance review, only counted to demoralise and subjugate the workforce into being mindless machines.

    “A good person in a bad system, will fail every time.” could perhaps be re-purposed to “A good teacher in a bad system, will fail every time.”

  2. Can only agree with the observations of SKS above.

    Also, can we not have a group of people go in and inspect our ministers and individually shut them down if they appear to be malfunctioning? OffGove?

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