‘Special measures’ is medieval and ineffective, says chair of governors

The TES is reporting suggestions from the chair of governors at a primary school that being placed in ‘special measures’ by Ofsted is a “medieval” punishment that does nothing to improve school performance…

Writing in the 28 November issue of TES under the pseudonym John C Hare, the governor explains that just as education abandoned the idea that humiliation was an effective spur to learning, theories about school improvement should soon follow suit.

“Perhaps placing petty criminals in the stocks was a successful aid to medieval law enforcement, but if employed today the collateral damage would quickly be seen to outweigh the benefits,” says Hare. “And so it is with schools and Ofsted.”

Despite Ofsted citing research that claims schools that only just fall into special measures improve quicker than those that only just manage to avoid the judgement, Hare contends it does not mean this is the best way to obtain improvement and that often it can hinder, not help, schools…

“Let me be clear: I agree with inspection,” says Hare. “I believe that a relentless programme to drive up teaching standards is necessary. And I admire much of Ofsted’s work. But is special measures really the best approach to school improvement? I’m not sure.”

Read the full article in the 28 November edition of TES on your tablet or phone or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents…

More at: ‘Special measures’ is medieval and ineffective, says chair of governors

 

What do you think of the analogy made between special measures and putting someone in the stocks? Is there a danger that the public attention, potential loss in pupil numbers (and associated funding) and impact on morale can do long term damage? Or is the category necessary as a red flag that changes are needed? Please give us your feedback in the comments or via Twitter…

 

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Comments

  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove What Ofsted won’t admit: consequences of a whimsical SM judgement tarnish a school’s reputation for years & hinder progress

  2. Janet2

    This is an anecdote and may not be typical.  A small village primary school was placed in special measures because of achievement.  Everything else was satisfactory or better.  But the achievement was based on the results of just 12 pupils, 4 of whom were special needs.

    Result: parent confidence plummeted.  Many parents removed their children. Classes were combined.  Staff morale fell.  When Ofsted returned it was really struggling and remained in special measures.  The head left suddenly and the deputy was made acting head.

    The story had a happy ending, sort of.  The LA, school-improvement partner and acting head worked hard to turn the school round.  It was judged Good in July.

    But that didn’t stop it becoming a sponsored academy in October.

  3. Janet2

    This is an anecdote and may not be typical.  A small village primary school was placed in special measures because of achievement.  Everything else was satisfactory or better.  But the achievement was based on the results of just 12 pupils, 4 of whom were special needs.

    Result: parent confidence plummeted.  Many parents removed their children. Classes were combined.  Staff morale fell.  When Ofsted returned it was really struggling and remained in special measures.  The head left suddenly and the deputy was made acting head.

    The story had a happy ending, sort of.  The LA, school-improvement partner and acting head worked hard to turn the school round.  It was judged Good in July.

    But that didn’t stop it becoming a sponsored academy in October.

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