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From Chris Woodhead:

Madam: I welcome the contribution of Ted Wragg and Tim Brighouse to the debate about school inspection (Opinion, 21 September, 1995).

There is merit in some of their proposals. Indeed, three of their five action points have been anticipated by Ofsted in our review of the inspection framework we have carried out this year. In revising the framework we have increased the emphasis on teaching and learning and recognised the value of self-evaluation.

The idea of differential inspection schedules for good schools is one of many included in our thinking about the second cycle of inspections.

The suggestion, however, that we need a new national and local inspection structure needs to be examined very carefully. The danger is that any such move would simply recreate a system which palpably failed to deliver a rigorous, consistent and regular public scrutiny of schools and perpetuated the education secret garden.

The Wragg-Brighouse pamphlet is noteworthy for the almost total omission of the words "pupils" and "parents".

What Ofsted has created in three short years is an open national inspection system. This gives parents and children an independent assessment of their schools and offers the schools and their staffs and governors an audit of their strengths and weaknesses and a list of action points on which to build.

Inspection is a stressful business for inspectors as well as schools. We are taking action over that. But the flood of letters from heads saying the benefits easily outweigh the burdens confirms my view that we are getting it right.

Yours faithfully,

Chris Woodhead,

Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools, Ofsted,

London, SE1.