Adjudicator is not a watchdog;Letter

20th August 1999 at 01:00
It is not easy to make three mistakes in six opening words, but your headline and article, "Watchdog acts against selection'', (TES August 6) managed that comfortably.

First, adjudicators have no "watchdog'' or supervisory role. We only become involved in school admissions problems in the comparatively rare instances when local agreement cannot be reached.

Second, adjudicators are not adversarial in their functions or approach. They are not either for or "against'' selective or any other element of the admissions process. Their function is to reach decisions in accordance with the legislation and the accompanying code of practice approved by Parliament. Everyone concerned with admissions has to have regard to that code and, for example, must try to balance the interests of parents who want to have access to their local school against any wish the school might have to attract pupils from further away.

Finally, if adjudicators were a "watchdog'' service, which we are not, we would certainly not be the "government's''. Adjudicators are appointed under conditions which ensure, as the article later recognises, that we are independent of government. That is what Parliament intended and that is unequivocally what we are and will remain.

Sir Peter Newsam Chief adjudicator Office of the Schools Adjudicator Vincent House 2 Woodland Road, Darlington

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