Why did the top education system in the world get rid of school inspectors?

21 May 2012
Local Schools Network

Pasi Sahlberg was the last Chief Inspector for schools in Finland. After that the government got rid of these “hanging judges”, turning them into supportive advisers, and leaving schools to inspect themselves. Here, in his talk in the House of Commons this May, he explains the rationale behind the decision. In the talk below, he identifies “GERM” — the Global Education Reform Movement — as being responsible for standardised testing, teacher accountability, school inspections and a centrally imposed curriculum. He says that GERM has lowered standards, not raised them. It’s only when you start trusting teachers that standards go up. I hope you enjoying another gem from my new educational guru; he really has inspired me to think again about so many things. Please forgive the rather gleeful tone in the headlines that start this video; I realise now I went a bit over the top! Of course, Finnish schools are not the best because they got rid of inspectors — as I claim rather ironically at the beginning of the video — but this was one element in them becoming top class. I am a teacher who has had two decades at the mercy of Ofsted, or managers threatening me with Ofsted; I’ve come to think that possibly they do more harm than good and that their role should be much more supportive. Certainly the new Ofsted framework is nonsensically draconian, getting inspectors to make snap judgements on things that they know nothing about. I’ve heard that there is even disquiet in the Tory shires about these inspections because the inspectors are failing perfectly good rural schools on quite arbitrary grounds. Gove’s Gradgrind tactics are beginning to lose the Conservatives votes.

 

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