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Inspections come rain or shine

Your article on Ofsted's inadequate use of statistical evidence ("Verdict on inspectors: inadequate", TES, December 1) was very revealing. But there is another aspect of inspection that would also bear deeper scrutiny; namely whether the time of year at which an inspection is carried out has any bearing on the outcome.

No doubt, in Ofsted's ivory towers standards of education are uniformly good or bad throughout the year. But the real world just isn't like that.

Any teacher knows that a secondary school that is the epitome of calm, purposeful learning during a sunny week in September can turn into a struggle to maintain order in a wet, windy week at the end of November.

Ofsted could, of course, provide ample evidence that this hypothesis is untrue simply by publishing the proportion of secondary schools placed in each category according to the month in which they were inspected.

My money would be on November and February coming out worst. Maybe The TES could use the Freedom of Information Act to elicit this information for 2005-06, the first year of the new inspection regime?

Tony Toubkin Carnforth, Lancashire

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