Not following the leader

1st December 2000 at 00:00
TREVOR Phillips is right to question the difference between principle and practice in the treatment of ethnic-minority children (TES, November 17), but he spoils his arguments by linking this with the alleged differences between principles and practice in teachers' attitudes to the Office for Standards in Education.

Mr Phillips makes the mistake of assuming that Chris Woodhead and OFSTED are one and the same thing. This is a mistake which Mr Woodhead often made himself.

OFSTED is an organisation whose inspections can be of great use to schools, and schools naturally wish to celebrate good OFSTED reports, or the good aspects of a poor reort. After all, celebrating the good is the principle applied to teaching children.

Sadly, Mr Woodhead will continue to shout at us via the Daily Telegraph, and across the country local newspaper editors will continue to pick out any remotely critical aspect of an OFSTED report, which they will publish to damn and harm schools in their areas.

In my experience, this is not the way of OFSTED inspectors. I have always found them strong in their desire to see schools improve, and some have been quite candid in criticism of their leader.

Richard Stephens

School governor

18 Russell Close

Stevenage, Hertfordshire

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