Private inspectors propose improvement model

16th February 1996 at 00:00
The headline "Largest private contractor lambasts OFSTED work" (TES, February 2) above the story of the report commissioned by the Centre for British Teachers may reflect The TES's own agenda in the debate on inspections.

It is not an accurate reflection of the report.

First, of course, the centre commissioned the report and deliberately gave its author editorial freedom. In that respect the headline was plain wrong.

The main conclusion of the report we published was that Office for Standards in Education inspections are currently trying to do too much - that the instrument and the framework of inspection which is needed to collect data to allow OFSTED to comment on strengths and weaknesses in the system is different from the framework needed to improve the schools being inspected.

Because the concern is primarily about weaknesses in the system, the framework used for data collection concentrates excessively on failure and engenders fear and mistrust in those being inspected.

The centre-commissioned report proposes a distinctly different model for those inspections where the main objective is improvement of the school being inspected. This does not undermine the case for inspections designed to collect data on systemic strengths and weaknesses; still less does it question OFSTED's and the chief inspector's duty to report on those characteristics, even at the risk of becoming deeply unpopular with, among others, The TES.

NEIL McINTOSH Chief executive Centre for British Teachers 1 The Chambers East Street Reading Berkshire

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