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Minister proposes teacher inspectors

Teachers and headteachers could become temporary inspectors under plans being considered by the Government.

Estelle Morris, school standards minister, said this week that experience of serving on an Office for Standards in Education inspection team could be valuable professional development.

"I can see nothing wrong with teachers becoming inspectors for a week," she told the education select committee, currently scrutinising the work of OFSTED.

"I don't think we want to set a target for a teacher on every team, but we do believe inspection would provide excellent in-service training for education leaders."

The MPs were also told that the role of the inspections' appeals adjudicator, Elaine Rassaby is to be evaluated in July.

Ministers are considering whether the appointment should continue to be made by OFSTED. It is expected that David Blunkett, the Education and Employment Secretary, will take over the task.

OFSTED is also likely to be asked to evaluate the work of education action zones.

The minister did not accept the critical view of previous witnesses to the committee that reform was needed to increase OFSTED's accountability.

Ms Morris said OFSTED's status was unique among the agencies that provide advice to ministers on education.

She said it was not ministers' view that the chief inspector should report to a board. "I don't think there is much wrong with the way we are doing it at the moment. If I was worried about accountability, it might be worth looking at more bureaucracy, but I would have to persuaded there was something wrong with the present system."

The minister also rejected the suggestion that OFSTED should undergo the five-year reviews that apply to the Teacher Training Agency and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.

"It is crucial to the existence of OFSTED that it provides independent advice," she said.

In response to questions, Ms Morris said inspectors' identification of weak teachers could form part of the evidence in procedures required before any dismissal. "The law does not say that teachers can be sacked on the basis of OFSTED reports," she said.

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