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Critical of criticism

Your editorial ("Respect for intelligent inspections", TES, January 16) misses the point on the "critical friends" for each school, mentioned by David Miliband in his speech to the North of England Education Conference.

The proposal, which arises from the case put forward by the Secondary Heads Association for a more intelligent accountability regime for schools, is not intended to add another layer to an already over-accountable system.

Quite the opposite. It is intended to create a single professional conversation for headteachers, replacing the numerous lines of accountability to which they are currently subjected.

Governing bodies will still have a vital role to play in the accountability structure in receiving, and taking action on, the report from the professional critical friend, as they currently do on the report from the external adviser who carries out the head's performance review annually.

John Dunford

General secretary

Secondary Heads Association

130 Regent Road

Leicester

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