OFSTED stands by interpretation

14th June 1996 at 01:00
I write, as the HM Inspector most closely involved in the preparation of chief inspector Chris Woodhead's annual report, to correct the impression given in your pages (TES, April 19, May 3 and 31) that there is something dubious about the interpretation placed in that report on evidence, whether from inspectors or any other source.

It is an impression which impugns without justification the integrity and considerable dedicated professional work of many HMIs, statisticians and other staff of the Office for Standards in Education. The uses made of evidence in recent letters fail the rigorous standards in the Office for Standards in Education. It is the corroboration of statistical indications by inspectors' written evidence that determines for OFSTED whether schools require improvement.

In reality, as those from The TES already know from their visit to OFSTED on May 2, registered inspectors have done their job well: they used the mid-point of the seven-point scale to represent balances of strength and weakness; they have understood (Ted Wragg, please note) the import of the May 1994 Handbook for the Inspection of Schools, part 3, appendix C, paragraph 3, which states that the mid-point "is not the point on the scale equating to terms such as 'satisfactory'", and their written evidence from schools judged at the mid-point both recognises the strengths of the school and identifies the subjects or aspects which in that school require improvement.

For OFSTED's part, examination of that evidence has been thorough. As a result, evaluations in the annual report reflect what teachers in inspected schools already know.

MICHAEL MADDEN Research analysis team Office for Standards in Education 33 Kingsway London WC2

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