Worthless Ofsted

July 14, 2000

Ofsted chief Chris Woodhead, has told college principals that "we must have an inspection process that comes to some judgements we can stand up about whether students in your college are making the progress they should" (News, THES, June 30).

Many colleges can already make this judgement using detailed and extensive "value-added" data. It is a waste of money to have inspectors passing judgement on data that speaks for itself.

It is also a waste of money for inspectors, having given six to 12 weeks' notice of their visit, to watch overprepared, overanxiously delivered lectures. Where is the credibility in such a procedure?

Ofsted is an irrational response to a very important concern about quality. It prevents learning by pretending to have the answers using totally inadequate methods. As for worth, it must be one of the few operations in which the value for money is negative.

Carol Taylor Fitz-Gibbon University of Durham

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