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Treat good reports sceptically

Gerald Haigh reports on a school which received a "glowing " report from the Office for Standards in Education and he comments that the school "will benefit from such a boost to the self-esteem" (Primary Update, TES, September 8). But should a school feel self-esteem because of a good report from OFSTED? Mr Haigh seems to pre-suppose that OFSTED inspectors know what they are talking about and that their reports are sound and reliable.

In August you reported an open letter to Education Secretary Gillian Shephard from a group of distinguished academics, including professors Antony Flew, Harvey Goldstein and Ted Wragg; the letter raised serious doubts about the reliability of OFSTED reports and about the credibility of the OFSTED inspection process. OFSTED seems to have made no attempt to answer these criticisms. No doubt many of your readers are awaiting a response with interest.

In the meantime, schools receiving good OFSTED reports should not get too carried away with self-esteem. Similarly, schools receiving bad reports should not be downhearted: OFSTED, I suspect, is an organisation "of whom to be dispraised were no small praise".

S J PERCIVAL

207 High Street, London SE9

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