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Ofsted: less of an ogre and more of an eye-opener

I am writing in response to the feature "How do you mend Ofsted?" (February 12). Our school was given a notice to improve in November 2008 and thus begun a truly challenging and tense school year. It is fair to say that the arrival of the inspectors in November 2009 was greeted with much trepidation and anxiety.

From the outset they recognised the tense atmosphere and did their best to put teachers at ease. The dialogue started with the first phone call and did not stop until the team left two days later. The judgments were well researched and in any areas where the team differed from our views we were encouraged to provide the appropriate evidence.

No doubt many readers will be asking if I would have been so magnanimous in my praise if the school, instead of being removed from the category, had been placed in special measures. I do not feel I can answer that honestly but I do think that our school was judged on its merits and in the current context.

Given that I have experienced four inspections as a headteacher - three under the old framework and one with the new - I feel it offers a genuine opportunity for discussion.

What is only too clear, given the experiences of some of my headteacher colleagues, is that the process is not consistently adhered to and can be too subjective. Perhaps a solution is to have more acting headteachers as additional inspectors, which is an option open to all of us.

Gerard Batty, Headteacher, Hellesdon High School, Norfolk.

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