Presumably, the editor of The TES has no doubts about the ethics of publishing Mike Kent's account of the inspection of Comber Grove (TES, June 29). I do. I am part-owner of a company that runs school inspections under contract from OFSTED.
Is it right to publish criticisms of individuals who cannot refute allegations because they are bound by a confidentiality code?
Inspection reports summarise evidence so that readers can form their own conclusions. Registered inspectors show the drafts to the school so that any judgment that is not secure can be challenged and, if necessary, removed. I do not think Mike Kent subjected his piece to such disciplines.
I also wonder if he has been economical with the truth. He says, for instance, that Comber Grove's national curriculum test results were only "slightly down" in 1999. The published data are much worse than "slightly".
A majority of inspections go well because a good working relationship is established. In a minority of cases the relationship is unsatisfactory. We have had examples of both and, when I have investigated, the fault has never been entirely on one side.
Penzer Allen Limited
6 East Point, Seal
The editor writes:Heads publicly criticised in OFSTED reports are also identifiable. The TES does not accept that they should be denied public right of reply because of the commercial contracts inspectors accept when agreeing to issue such reports.