Inspectors on the defensive

YOUR REPORT (TES, Diary, November 13) cites the Office for Standards in Education's defensiveness in the face of the House of Commons Education and Employment Committee inquiry.

In an article in the Daily Telegraph, chief inspector Chris Woodhead urged the committee to reject anecdotal evidence. Has it not occurred to him that it is the basis of his framework for school inspections, a cornerstone of the inspection of local authorities? As long as school inspections depend on inspectors observing classroom practice and writing up anecdotes of what they have seen, and LEA inspections depend on anecdotes of LEA practice reported in private by heads, there will be endless dispute about the validity of the process.

Why do schools and LEAs so often appear to fail to identify their own weaknesses? Is it beyond the wit of OFSTED to develop self-assessment that becomes effective in raising standards and gaining public confidence?

Andrew Collier General secretary Society of Education Officers Boulton House 17-21 Chorlton Street Manchester

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