Inspection can be just the ticket

18th October 1996 at 01:00
My experience as an Office for Standards in Education registered inspector confirms Chris Woodhead's impression (TES, October 4) that the vast majority of headteachers whose schools have been inspected have found the process helpful.

I would go further. On a number of occasions, heads have told me that inspection by OFSTED was just what they needed to support their own awareness of weaknesses, and plans for improvement, previously treated with suspicion by staff and governors. Several have said something like: "Now I can quote OFSTED to get something done."

One of the many strengths of OFSTED is its ability not only to detect weaknesses in schools, but to insist that something be done about them. I have yet to come across a headteacher who does not find that helpful and supportive in the process of raising standards.

Denigration of OFSTED is not surprising because some teachers do not take too kindly to having their inadequacies pointed out. They spend a good deal of their time telling children what to do to improve, but develop paranoia when they find themselves on the receiving end.

They are encouraged in this attitude by your columnist Ted Wragg, whose satire seems to have lost its previous subtlety and become rather coarse. But perhaps it is the destiny of all satirists to lower their standards when they have run out of good ideas. His tasteless joke about Chris Woodhead's surname (TES, October 4) is not the sort of thing one would allow a school pupil to write about a teacher. It is as well we have OFSTED keeping an eye on standards in schools.

PETER DAWSON

OFSTED registered inspector General secretary of the Professional Association of Teachers 1980-92 72 The Ridings Ockbrook, Derby

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