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From Vivian Anthony

Madam: I refer to your "Opinion" article"Free-market Stalinists" (13 July). The Headmasters' Conference inspection scheme has been operating for just 12 months and 35 schools have been inspected, so there is still much to be learnt. The detailed criticisms of all who have been involved have been considered by the Steering Committee. None has hinted at "bureaucratic nightmare" and to compare our one part-time co-ordinator with the Ofsted administration seems a little unreal.

Had Brian Martin read the reports, he would know there has been no holding back on judgements by inspectors who, in the main, come from other HMC schools. Our view that this is one of the scheme's real strengths is supported not only by independent observers, but by the large numbers of valuable recommendations for improvements made in the reports. Given the quality of HMC schools, it is not surprising the reports tend to be favourable.

It is mischievous to suggest headmaster inspectors would set aside their professional judgement because they mix socially with those they are inspecting. Any such evidence would be thoroughly investigated. Most inspectors do not know those they are inspecting. I hope they will continue to recommend ways in which teaching can be enlivened, even if this upsets those who want only "tried and tested methods". Fortunately, most schools usually find ways of encompassing both.

The "Stalinist" epithet could be used only by someone who does not know how the HMC inspection system has been received.

Yours faithfully,



Headmasters' Conference


Owing to a misunderstanding, Brian Martin was wrongly described as an inspector of private schools after last week's Opinion piece.