UCU was due to meet with college quality representatives on Thursday to discuss the new observation framework, which looks progressive and interesting. This meeting has been cancelled. No reason has been given and no further meeting has been scheduled. Whether or not this bodes ill for lecturing staff is hard to say at the moment. We’ll keep you informed.
When the full Ofsted report is published UCU will read it carefully and let you know what we think.
Meanwhile, many of you will have attended Dianne’s presentations which gave an indication of how college management intends to interpret the findings. Her argument seemed to be, the disappointing grade achieved for teaching and learning made it inevitable that management would receive a similarly disappointing grade. She elaborated on this a little when she said that good or excellent management structures and processes might all be in place but could not be judged as good or excellent if classroom teaching was not effective. The conclusion we were invited to draw from this is that lecturers have been provided with suitable structures and processes to work with but have not made proper use of them. Thus, it is substantially the fault of lecturers and not management that the grades achieved were not what was hoped for.
UCU rejects this argument. Dianne gave no reason why the argument should not have been stated like this: the disappointing grade achieved for management made it inevitable that teaching and learning would achieve a similar grade. Thus it is substantially the fault of management that the grades achieved were not what was hoped for.
Which way round should the argument go? One answer, of course, is it depends on who has the loudest voice and the most power. And, (although I hate to disappoint), that would be college management.
Another answer is to forget trying to apportion blame and to look carefully and thoughtfully at what’s actually happening. Perhaps all we can say at the moment is, austerity, management decisions and classroom teaching have all contributed to the college’s disappointing Ofsted grade. Because everybody, if we’re honest, knows that any kind of binary, blaming argument makes no sense if you’re trying to understand and solve a complicated problem. (I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking Brexit here.)
When we’ve read the final report we’ll try to suggest some ways forward.