Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Ofsted: chutzpah with extra dressing

Here is the Ofsted report on English. My first reaction is 'What a bloody nerve!' Much of what they're complaining about is a direct result of a) government policy and b) the fact that they policed it! At the very least, you might have expected them to beg forgiveness for having patrolled schools enforcing the crap National Literacy Strategies.

It's great to see them now advocating 'reading for pleasure' as if it's something they've been going on about for years. Yes, they cunningly had a little report on reading for pleasure tucked away on their website for some time now, but of course they have visited thousands of schools over the last ten years, say, and their checklist didn't include the provision of books for reading for pleasure. It just wasn't on their radar and so it wasn't something that they asked schools to do anything about.

Apparently, it now will be. Those of us who have put emphasis on this, however, weren't asking for the heavy hand of Ofsted to demand this. Over and over again, we've suggested that what the government could have done was publish some friendly recommendations which schools would be asked to adapt according to their local conditions.

The cynic in me says that this is really about the slow discovery these people are making about phonics: namely that whatever its strengths, it will never be enough to deliver competent readers who read for meaning. Only yesterday I heard that Tower Hamlets advisers are concerned about the phenomenon of 'barking at print' ie being able to read fluently but without understanding.

Meanwhile, the list of good school practice that they appear to be advocating are policies championed by LATE, NATE, CLPE, the English and Media Centre for decades even as they've been derided and cold-shouldered and treated as if they were the enemies within.

Anyway, more when I've had a closer read.