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Role of Woodhead challenged

The involvement of Chris Woodhead, the chief inspector of schools, in the drafting of the inspection findings on Birmingham's education service is likely to be challenged when the final report appears next week.

The local authority has asked for the removal of what it considers doubtful opinion and denigratory passages from the final version.

While the Office for Standards in Education inspection of Birmingham was initially agreed on a pilot basis, it was carried out under the provisions of the 1997 Education Act. Under this the chief inspector can arrange the inspection of any education authority. This should be led by a member of Her Majesty's Inspectorate. But once that HMI has written his report, the law says he should send it to the local authority in question and to the Education Secretary. There is no mention of involving the chief inspector.

The Birmingham inspection was led by Chris Banks, a senior HMI. However, the final drafting of the report was carried out by a team of four that included Mr Woodhead.

An OFSTEDspokesman said: "Chris Woodhead is in the equivalent role to the editor of a newspaper. Because he is HMI of schools and head of OFSTED, he is responsible for everything published by OFSTED."

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