David Cameron, director of children's services in Stirling, went so far as to say he might consider resigning if he felt strongly enough.
Asked by a delegate at the annual conference of the Headteachers' Association of Scotland last week how far he would go in defending the creativity of his schools, he said: "To the point of resignation. If you are content with a school's judgment of itself and that it is taking the right steps to address the challenges it faces, you need to be prepared to argue that position if someone else comes in and says you've got it wrong."
Mr Cameron said he did not wish to portray HMIE as "some kind of bete noire holding back progress: There is clearly an issue with school reports. If you are not seen to measure up to the attainment standard, that has a depressing impact on other gradings across the report.
"In the verbal description, leadership of the school might justify an 'excellent', but be graded as 'good' or 'very good'. The claim is that attainment does not justify the impact of that leadership; verbal descriptions are being depressed because of the attainment element."
Elisabeth Ritchie of HMIE, who was attending the conference, said: "If you can think of another way of doing it, tell us about it."