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We're not Ofsted spies

School improvement partners provide heads with support and challenge from peers with experience of running schools (Buddy or Busybody" by John Bangs, TES, May 19).

Evaluations show that heads enjoy the sharpened dialogue on school improvement with their SIP, which many acknowledge has enabled them to identify new areas for improvement.

It may be, as Mr Bangs suggests, that many heads need mentors to share the burden of the loneliness of office. But he does heads a disservice if he thinks this is the end of the story.

The heads I have known in my career as a head and now national SIP co-ordinator, are passionate about ensuring all young people in their care achieve high standards and see the SIP as helping their school. A large number of heads tell us they recognise and value SIPs.

Mr Bangs raises a number of scares in his article. There has never been any suggestion that a database of headteachers' competence be created using SIPs' information, nor is one planned.

Far from being a "one size fits all" approach to improvement, local authorities are developing different approaches with SIPs and a key aim is responsiveness to the school's needs and priorities.

Finally, he wheels out the accusation that this is all about being Ofsted's advance guard. Heads are well aware of the difference between SIPs and Ofsted. The SIP works with the school in partnership focused on the needs of the school. SIP reports are for the head, governors and local authority; they are not public documents, and it is not intended that they will be available to the public.

Adrian Percival

National SIP co-ordinator

National Primary and Secondary Strategy, Capita SCS, 1 New Century Place, East Street,Reading

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