All was not rosy pre-OFSTED

20th June 1997 at 01:00
Colin Richards's attack on the Office for Standards in Education contains 10 main points (TES, Letters, June 6). A good many of them are subjective, but three are serious and, in part at least, valid criticism of the standard of primary inspectors and inspections.

But it is not OFSTED which is to blame for this but the system of HM Inspectorate and local education authorities which preceded it. Although more than 50 per cent of children in school are in primary schools, the proportion of LEA inspectors, who were primary specialists pre-OFSTED was disproportionately small. As a result, when OFSTED was created there was, and remains, a surplus of secondary inspectors and a severe shortage of primary inspectors.

Although the market-led inspection system is now sorting out this imbalance, it has led to significant distortions in the price which suppliers have been able to charge.

Far from this being a basis on which to condemn OFSTED, there is no more clear example of the dominance of the producer interest than the failure to support primary schools with appropriate expertise which was the norm pre-OFSTED.

RICHARD BIRKETT Financial director CFBT Education Services 1 The Chambers East Street Reading Berkshire

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