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Inspectors have to offer feedback

YOU are correct to note the changing mood at the Office for Standards in Education (School management, TES, March 1).

Our research suggests that while teachers recognise changes to the inspection system and inspectors' practice over time, they experience a wide variation in the quantity and quality of feedback on their teaching performance.

Of the teachers that change their practice after an inspection 90 per cent report that they do so as a result of feedback from an inspector. This, suggests that one method of maximising the impact of inspection on classroom improvement would be to provide high quality feedback to every teacher. One solution would be to incorporate a "feedback guarantee" into the framework for inspection.

However, to create and sustain significant changes wider reforms are necessary. Research suggests that three principles must be applied:

* context-specific inspection;

* local re-engagement;

* development of post-inspection relationships.

Changes of this nature would encourage transformation from a process immersed in rhetorical improvement, underpinned by the soundbites of improvement through inspection and inspection-in-partnership, to a process that genuinely supports school improvement and teacher development.

Christopher Chapman

Centre for research on teacher and school development

University of Nottingham

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