Woodhead successor lies low

17th November 2000 at 00:00
ENGLAND's next chief inspector of schools appears to have gone to ground after being appointed as the successor - temporarily, at least - to Chris Woodhead.

Mike Tomlinson has made no public statement since being named as acting chief inspector in the immediate aftermath of Mr Woodhead's resignation two weeks ago.

His low profile is in stark contrast with that of Mr Woodhead, who this week was attacked by the Government's universities watchdog for claiming that some degree courses were "vacuous".

John Randall, chief executive of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, said Mr Woodhead's comments about subjects such as media studies and golf course management were "ill-informed, ill-considered and unconstructive".

He added: "It is not sensible to dismiss glibly whole fields of academic endeavour. There can be academic rigour in new and practical fields of study, just as there can be weaknesses in standards in conventional academic disciplines."

This week, Mr Tomlinson was still refusing interviews and he has also pulled out of at least one scheduled public appearance. He was due to give a talk on the new inspection framework for heads and governors in Manchester on Tuesday. But a spokesman for the organisers, the University ofHull, said Mr Tomlinson withdrew last week, citing his "new responsibilities" as the reason.

An Office for Standards in Education spokesman would not say whether Mr Tomlinson had withdrawn from any other engagements, or when he would be speaking about his new job.

He said: "The internal arrangements of the diaries of our senior officials are a matter for them and a matter for us.

"When we think that the time is right to do a presentation of one sort or another ... or to start giving interviews, we will let you know."

The spokesman added that, despite being appointed as acting chief inspector two weeks ago, Mr Tomlinson (currently Mr Woodhead's deputy) would not be taking over from Mr Woodhead until the end of the month.

The Department for Education and Employment said Mr Tomlinson's dealings with the media were a matter for OFSTED.

The day Mr Woodhead was appointed - June 8, 1994 - he was already speaking out about using OFSTED inspections to ensure teaching was "of the highest quality".

In his first week in the job, Mr Woodhead gave an interview to the Daily Mail in which he claimed a minority of teachers were "incompetent". The paper put the story on its front page, under the headline "sack the useless teachers".

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