The idiocy of Ofsted

One of the great things about quangocrats is that as a group they are constantly striving to go further - every time you think they have plumbed the absolute depths of stupidity, one of them excels and breaks previous records.

The new Usain Bolt of quango idiocy, storming over the finishing line with her arms outspread to demonstrate her supremacy, is Zenna Atkins.

As Chairman of Ofsted, you would hope that Ms Atkins might be a bastion of common sense. Indeed, in her recent outburst of nonsense she teased the public by initially espousing ideas that we can all agree with.

When asked about the revelation that only 18 teachers have been struck off for poor performance in 40 years, she reportedly said:

"The issue is almost an underbelly of poorly- performing teachers who
are just being accepted. People don't seem to have the strategies to
move them on and move them out."

So far so good. She also said schools were too scared to sack teachers who were doing a bad job, and urged them to deal with the issue.

However, it appears that Ms Atkins was just toying with us, lulling us into the false sense that perhaps, just perhaps, a quango boss had a relatively normal view of the world. But then she landed her right hook:

"I would not remove every single useless teacher because every grown-up in a workplace needs to learn to deal with the moron who sits four desks down without lamping them and to deal with authority that's useless. I'd like to keep the number low, but if every primary school has one pretty naff teacher, this helps kids realise that even if you know the quality of authority is not good, you have to learn how to play it."

I for one will be suing Ofsted for the bruising to my jaw after it hit the table when I read that.

She is of course right that when one grows up, one swiftly learns that there are plenty of idiots at large. Impressively, she manages to show herself to be an example of that very problem by proposing such a stupid solution to it.

No satirist down the ages, or even Kafka at his most doom-laden, foretold of a society where the person charged with maintaining education standards argued in favour of deliberately employing bad teachers as a way of improving children.

The idea is patently, gibberingly absurd. It is the most gross betrayal of a child for the education system to fail to teach him or her reading, writing and arithmetic. Without such a basic and decent start in life, the lives of those who leave school illiterate or innumerate are all hobbled, and many lives are destroyed entirely by the rotten seeds sown by incompetent teachers.

By all means, school should prepare children for the realities of the world. However, that is done by challenging them and allowing them to experience success and failure. A good teacher would never consider the idea that children should be deliberately taught badly in order to "teach them about life".

When I first read this story, I almost laughed out loud at the absurdity of it. The more I consider not only the reality of the idea, but the fact that the person proposing it has been overseeing educational standards for years, it makes me furious.

Those who criticise the idea that parents should be allowed to choose which school is best for their child should sit and rethink the issue. Who would you trust with a child's future, their mum and dad, or a buffoon like Zenna Atkins?

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