Monday, 25 November 2013

Education - Ofsted

Most who know me know that the reason I got involved in politics is education, and in particular Michael Gove.

Having participated in and quietly contributed to consultations on education policy over the years I saw first hand how all consultation ended in 2010 and only too clearly understood the implications of that.

With an unusually deep background in the economics of education and the underlying associated issues of professional freedom, I could clearly see that the vast majority of Mr Gove's initiatives were without and foundation and were destined to catastrophic and vastly expensive failure. 

The one bright light seemed to be that he stated he was determined to improve the way Ofsted functioned to allow schools greater professional freedom.  So I watched the inquiry which took place over the winter of 2010/11 to discover how to achieve this closely. I took to the discussion forums to try to explore possible ways forward and was horrified to find that I was subject to systematic and extreme abuse, the systematic deletion of my posts, partial moderation and, when these tactics failed to deter me from posting, to being banned from posting and threatened with legal action if I wrote about what was going on.

Meanwhile inspector after inspector visited the enquiry stating clearly that Ofsted could not be improved.

Satisfactory became the new unsatisfactory, inspections became more brutal and ministers used Ofsted as a tool for pursuing their own pet policies.  Schools still had no rights whatsoever to challenge decisions in any circumstances (except to Ofsted and Mr Gove) so no matter how ignorant and inappropriate the inspection outcome schools are left with Hobson's choice of accepting it or objecting, brining more negative attention on the school and getting nowhere for it.

I gave up my plans to write a PhD in maths education and pursued instead the objective of creating free forums.  This was an objective which was achieved on some platforms by the beginning of 2012.  Coaxing people into posting in public and giving them the time they needed to develop their thinking and fluency on policy issues has taken longer.

Meanwhile I also researched policy surrounding Ofsted, making a substantial breakthrough when I started to look at best practice in regulation policy and methodology outside education.  I discovered that there were established codes of best practice in regulation to which Ofsted could be obligated using the same legal framework already in place for the vast majority of regulated UK organisations.

This was the resulting policy (note the references are at the end of the document after the other policy motions):

The motion got 100% support and is now widely understood and accepted and supported within the Liberal Democrats:

I've worked hard to get it adopted by other parties and by unions, but so far have been unable to move beyond getting the support of individuals without those groups.

I'm publishing this because I am horrified by what's going on in Cumbria with Ofsted now.  This could have been avoided if I'd managed to get sufficient wide based support to take on Mr Gove.

I'm easy to find if anyone wants to help.

Rebecca Hanson
12 Kirkgate, Cockermouth.  On and Facebook.

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