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Open minds at OFSTIN prove a pleasant surprise

A couple of weeks ago, you published our letter in which we challenged Carol Fitz-Gibbon and her Office for Standards in Inspection colleagues to engage in a dialogue with us to ensure that the somewhat one-sided presentation of their views against the Office for Standards in Education could be balanced by our views and experience as OFSTED's leading contractor.

The gauntlet was duly picked up and returned, and our invitation to attend the OFSTIN conference was accepted with alacrity.

With one or two notable exceptions where tired, retreaded opinion and assertion were presented as incontrovertible fact and bold new ways forward, we are pleasantly surprised by the open-mindedness we encountered and the really genuine desire to consider all points of view and integrate them into a way forward that would offer genuine benefits to the education system and increase the effectiveness of the moves to improve standards and schools themselves.

Despite the applause from the floor that greeted every pejorative reference to Chris Woodhead, I was impressed by the willingness of the great majority on the OFSTIN steering group and the conference working parties to listen and, in many cases, understand and accept the view we put forward in defence of the system, OFSTED and, dare I say it, Chris himself.

We shall continue the dialogue with OFSTIN at its request and will not find it difficult to work with the great majority of those to whom you somewhat dismissively referred in your 21 June article as a band of retired headteachers and academics who challenge OFSTED's methods - a description that, now I've met them, does not do them justice.

JOHN HASLETT

Director of UK Operations

Centre for British Teachers

Reading

Berkshire

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