Michael Gove: Let Ofsted inspect private schools too

Education Editor

Education standards watchdog Ofsted should be given the power to inspect private as well as state schools, Michael Gove has said.

The Education Secretary, addressing a conference of mainly private school heads at Brighton College, said he believed chief schools inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw - head of Ofsted - was widely regarded as the man most likely to speak out "without fear or favour on education standards in this country".

Mr Gove said there were "lots of good people" within the independent schools inspectorate but that there was "a very powerful case for Sir Michael and his team of inspectors inspecting all schools".

He added that he would like to see more teachers from the independent sector joining school inspection teams. One of the criticisms of the current inspectorate has been that there are too few serving teachers and heads volunteering to act as inspectors.

Richard Cairns, head of Brighton College, said he felt independent school heads would be "lukewarm" about Ofsted inspecting their schools.

"I think there are many in the independent sector who would object on the grounds that they were being inspected by people coming from different educational worlds," he said.

"The Independent School Inspectorate focuses on the world outside the classroom. If Ofsted inspectors become lighter touch we would see very little difference between them."

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