Ofsted says non-stop testing is bad for kids. Too late, mate
Amanda Spielman thinks schools have been strained by government-imposed league tables, endless targets and exams – but teachers have been saying this for years
The head of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, has just declared that “a good inspection outcome will follow” only if schools are providing “a broad and rich curriculum”, and not just creating “exam scribes”. Excuse me while I scream and cram myself into the fridge to stop my blood boiling, because Ofsted is rather late off the mark with this idea. About 30 years too late.
My friend Fielding and I, who taught together at a comprehensive in the 70s, have been complaining, writing about, warning and despairing over the “pressure created by performance tables” for at least three decades, along with the bulk of the teaching profession. Now, at last, Ofsted has caught on.
Too late, mate. Exhausted, dispirited and burnt out by their struggle with government-imposed league tables, endless targets and exams, and seeing the destructive effect it has had on their pupils, teachers have been breaking down and leaving the profession en masse for years. And who has been cracking the whip over our knackered teachers? Why, Ofsted! Now it’s going to punish them for what it’s been bossing them into doing since its inception.
“I’ve always felt the country’s falling apart,” says Fielding. “But now it’s out of control.” And no wonder, if the people in power were so apparently tardy in spotting what was going on in so many areas. It couldn’t have been difficult to work out. All they needed to do was to go into a hospital, housing estate or school, get on a bus, mix with the populace and listen to their troubles, and the problems would have been crystal clear.
People have been warning councils and governments until they were blue in the face about brewing dangers, that things done on the cheap don’t last and can be perilous, and that prevention is better, and less costly, than cure – but with no luck, until the big, gaping cracks have begun to show. Now, with children, teachers and parents half-crazed by exams, targets, tests and inspections, up rears Ofsted, from its secluded bunker, to tell us that non-stop testing does children no good. Thanks for nothing. ■