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Call for checks ignored

CALLS for more controls over the chief inspector are no closer to being answered now Chris Woodhead has gone, writes Warwick Mansell.

Last week, at the Commons education select committee hearing that preceded Mr Woodhead's resignation, Tory MPs repeated a plea for him to be made answerable to a board of commissioners.

However, a similar call was thrown out by Education Secretary David Blunkett last year. A Department for Education and Employment spokesman said: "It would require primary legislation to make the chief inspector report to a board. There are no plans to change these arrangements."

There will also be no immediate reform of the system for dealing with schols' complaints about the Office for Standards in Education. This is despite the fact that complaints adjudicator Elaine Rassaby has herself said her position is compromised by the fact that she is employed, and can be sacked, by OFSTED.

OFSTED itself said it was concerned the adjudicator should appear independent. However, a DFEE spokesman would only say that the matter was being considered.An announcement was due "shortly", the spokesman added - but would not say whether that meant before Christmas.

Ms Rassaby told The TES she was concerned that any move to make her fully independent of OFSTED may be put off until July - when her contract is due to be renewed.

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