School inspector struck off over `bullying'

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The Independent Online
A SCHOOL inspector who was accused of bullying teachers has been struck off by the school standards watchdog.

The Office for Standards in Education, which monitors inspections, said yesterday that Geoffrey Owen had been the subject of "a number of complaints".

Ofsted had rejected protests about Mr Owen's conduct during inspections from nine schools over the past three years. But this month it upheld a complaint from Christ Church infant school in Down End, Bristol, where some teachers were so distressed by Mr Owen's behaviour that they had to receive counselling.

He was also accused of telling the head of one London primary school to expect a "Rolls-Royce of inspections" that would be "no consolation to those crushed beneath its wheels".

John Harries, another head, from Earley near Reading, was alleged to have been "emotionally destroyed" by Mr Owen's visit. He took early retirement. Rookery Junior School, in Handsworth, Birmingham, complained that a teacher was distressed by a confrontation with Mr Owen in front of pupils.

Mr Owen has the right to appeal against the decision.

Nigel de Gruchy, the general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: "We have sympathy for anyone losing their job, but we have had so many complaints about this inspector that, if something had not been done, we would have lost all confidence in the Ofsted inspection procedure," he said.

Chris Woodhead, the Chief Inspector of Schools, said that Ofsted had investigated the earlier complaints and found Mr Owen's inspection judgements to be secure and valid. "In coming to a judgement about Mr Owen's registration in the light of the Christ Church case, I have, nevertheless, had to take into account his overall performance record," he said.

He said it was unusual for a deregistration to be publicised. It was being done "because of the very considerable media coverage the case has attracted".

Mr Owen, of Yeovil, said: "I am not surprised by Ofsted's decision as my position has been impossible for the last couple of years and clearly I have upset a lot of people. But there is no easy way to tell teachers and headteachers that there is room for improvement in the way they do their jobs."