Real quality is a loser

March 19, 1999

Part one of the analysis of teaching quality assessments ("A quality game where cheating is allowed", THES, March 12) consistently refers to inspection of "courses". Courses are not inspected - subject areas, as defined by national criteria, are.

One can also argue that any subject area characterised by diversity of approach across courses is immediately disadvantaged. The TQA expects consistency.

Further, I would argue that the TQA does not reliably focus on the quality of teaching. It focuses on the quality of the documentation and the drama presented to the inspectors.

Sustained, interactive, creative, divergent teaching, learning and curriculum development, even of a very high quality, is almost impossible to document adequately with any consistency or reveal during the four-day charade that is the visit. Nevertheless the TQA expects transparency.

So, however liberal and catholic your subject approachers are, however much you embrace spontaneity and diversity, however much this legitimately engages in creative exploration of ideas and a measured resistance to bureaucratic surveillance and control, do not display these laudable qualities during the TQA process. To win at that game, a subject area has to appear compliant, consistent and transparent.

Geoffrey Matthews Holderness Road, Hull

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