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Letter of the day: Teachers are damaging their students' education by refusing to cooperate with school inspectors



THE announcement, on Wednesday, from Northern Ireland's chief education inspector, Noelle Buick, in the Educational Training Inspectorate's (ETI) biennial report, revealed only 39% of Northern Ireland schools "fully co-operated" with school inspectors. This revelation is not entirely surprising.

This month's news has been plagued with reports of teaching staff holding numerous strikes. Last week, the management of UK teaching union NASUWT defended the recent strike action of Northern Ireland teachers, laying the blame firmly on the "scandalous austerity" of the Conservative Government.

However, these strikes do not just entail congregating on a footpath with placards, but also involve teachers refusing to lend their co-operation and assistance to school inspectors.

Inspections form a core aspect in the efficient running of schools and allow an external, independent agency to assess the performance of staff and students alike. This concerning report from the ETI demonstrated the real, obstructive difficulties with which school inspectors are faced.

Some 30% of schools, the report stated, bluntly refused to co-operate with statutory inspections. Who, then, suffers the most from this? It is the students and their education.

Perhaps it is little wonder that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) described how up to 13% of 16-to-19-year-olds in Northern Ireland possess low-level literacy skills.

As Noelle Buick states, the onus is on the schools to display a "transparent attitude" with regard to school inspections. That also means an urgent rethink of teachers' strike action.

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