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Welsh chief's language gaffe

THE chief inspector of schools in Wales - already under fire because she cannot speak Welsh - has delighted her detractors with a classic linguistic blunder: getting her own title wrong, writes Warwick Mansell.

Even more unfortunately for Susan Lewis, head of the inspection service, Estyn, the mistake was in a letter about the inspectorate's Welsh language policy.

In a letter to inspectors and local authorities across the Principality, Ms Lewis's title was given as Ei Mawrhydi Prif Arolygiad, which translates as "Her Majesty Chief Inspection".

The gaffe could not have come ata worse time for Ms Lewis.

Earlier this month, the National Union of Teachers and UCAC, the Welsh teacher union, protested that none of Estyn's four most senior officers spoke Welsh.

Ms Lewis is chief among their targets. Advertisements for her post, to which she was appointed in 1997, said that candidates would need a commitment to learn the language. Three years on, she still does not speak Welsh.

An Estyn spokeswoman acknowledged the mistake but said it had been corrected in a follow-up letter. She added: "Ms Lewis is learning Welsh. It's a difficult language."

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