Heads set to check inspection reports

17th February 1995 at 00:00
The Government's chief inspector of schools is proposing to let schools to see a draft of their inspection reports before they are published.

The plan to allow schools to check reports for factual accuracy is part of the overhaul of the new inspection system being undertaken by the Office for Standards in Education.

According to the consultation document published this week, the contractors carrying out inspections are advised to ask the schools to check reports. Where there are factual errors which have a significant bearing on the findings, inspectors will have to make corrections and "review the relevant judgments".

Under existing arrangements, the team provides the head and governors with an oral report at the end of the inspection, but inspectors are not supposed to provide any draft of the report.

The proposed guidelines say schools can only insist on the correction of errors, but there are fears of schools using such a rule to press inspectors to give them more favourable reports.

The revision of the guidelines is intended to reduce the workload on the contractors and sharpen the focus on quality of teaching and standards of achievement.

Launching the consultation, Chris Woodhead, the chief inspector, said: "We must get away from the blandness of the encyclopaedic description of every possible aspect of school life and achieve a sharp evaluation of what is happening in classrooms."

Mr Woodhead is also keen that inspectors do not impose any one view of what is best practice on the school's own vision. While it is possible, he said, to have poor whole-class teaching, he had been concerned by complaints from three headteachers about inspectors being biased against traditional methods.

The reforms will include jargon-free reports with summaries that take up the main issues. According to OFSTED, very few parents request the full report and it is looking at whether parents are put off by the price. Schools can charge parents the cost of reproducing the report.

The questionnaire that goes to parents before an inspection is being redrafted by external consultants and consideration is being given to including a second parents' meeting at the end of inspections.

Detailed comments on particular subjects and data are likely to be relegated to appendices. Inspectors are to be encouraged to highlight features which are significant in explaining educational standards.

* The Langham School in the London borough of Haringey - where the head and deputy have been suspended - has been judged by HM inspectors to be failing to provide adequate education.

In a follow-up inspection, the school was deemed to have an ineffective senior management team. Standards of achievement were satisfactory in only half of lessons. Inspectors reported poor and sometimes aggressive behaviour in corridors and stairways.

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