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Regime helped raise standards

CHRIS Woodhead's departure has inevitably provoked a variety of assessments on the impact of his reign as chief inspector. Always controversial, he provoked strong and conflicting reactions - to some the demon, to others the saviour (perhaps too many failed to distinguish between Chris Woodhead the man, and the work of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools).

What cannot be denied is the clear trend for improvement in national educational outcomes in recent years. This is certainly not due to better funding, as the proportion of growth domestic product allocated to education steadily declined through the 1990s.

Among possible causes for improvement are demographic change; greater tacher professionalism and commitment; more managerial school autonomy; the publication of league tables; and national strategies for primary literacy and numeracy.

Some may not have liked being subjected to tighter external acc-ountability and challenge which brought conflict before it brought support. The regime has been tough, and perhaps the new chief inspector may feel able to place greater reliance on self-evaluation.

Can there be any real doubts, however, that rigorous inspection played its part in raising standards?

D J Boatman

Vice-chair, Association of Heads of Foundation and Aided Schools

Saffon Walden county high school

Saffron Walden, Essex

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