The recent article on the appointment of the chief education officer for Newcastle upon Tyne made reference to advisers being "allowed" to undertake inspections at the expense of helping schools with their problems.
It should be pointed out that it was decided by the education committee two years ago to bid for all Office for Standards in Education contracts in the LEA's schools. This policy was to allow for further expansion in the advisory service and meet an income target of nearly Pounds 200,000.
Undoubtedly, this is a situation which many advisory services have faced in recent years. In Newcastle, advisers had to spend at least 20 per cent of their time on OFSTED work. Registered inspectors effectively spent much more time than this on inspection. Despite these pressures, the advisers were still able to spend at least 30 per cent of their time working directly with schools. A further 50 per cent was spent on curriculum support and training, monitoring schools' progress, preparing schools for inspection, following up on action plans, leading initiatives and supporting governing bodies.
In October this year, the education committee will be asked to reduce its commitment to undertaking OFSTED inspections. It is clear that schools in the city are more anxious to have the full support of the advisory service in preparing for and responding to inspection. We are now determined to improve this policy in a way that will provide the maximum support for schools.
DAVID BELL Chief education officer designate ROSEMARY MORRIS Acting principal adviser City of Newcastle upon Tyne.