Schools chief says Puttnam is `silly'

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THE EMBATTLED chief inspector of schools, Chris Woodhead, was embroiled in a fresh row over his performance yesterday after Lord Puttnam accused him of damaging teacher recruitment by leading a "permanent regime of intimidation and terror".

Mr Woodhead said the Oscar-winning film producer, who heads the Government- backed national teaching awards, was being "simply silly" after he hinted that Ministers should consider replacing the chief inspector at the Office for Standards in Education

The chief inspector has been under increasing pressure since his ex-wife Cathy accused him earlier this year of lying over claims he had an affair with a sixth-former while a teacher at her school. Mr Woodhead has consistently insisted that his relationship with Amanda Johnston started only after they had both left Gordano School near Bristol where Mr Woodhead taught in the 1970s.

He told a conference of independent heads in April: "If your critics cannot fault the logic of your argument they will attack your reputation."

Lord Puttnam, who is one of the Government's informal advisors on education, told a Sunday newspaper: "Teachers will need someone to go in and love them and offer support, optimism and affection. I don't believe in a permanent regime of intimidation and terror. There is a moment at which rigour tips over into intimidation and constantly lecturing and delivering strictures isn't the best way to get results."He said Mr Woodhead was "seldom brilliant at creating a healing environment". Mr Woodhead insisted Lord Puttnam was using "exaggerated language".

The way to improve morale among teachers was to "develop a greater honesty about standards and a willingness to face up to facts". He said: "The proof of the pudding is in the eating and the judgements of school inspectors show that there is more good teaching in English schools. What I have always done is to speak clearly and rigorously. It is very unhelpful to pretend that things are going well when they are not. My stance has always been to expose problems where they exist but to ensure that successful schools and teachers get the praise they deserve."

Mr Woodhead was appointed by the government to a new five-year term of office last year. He has seldom been far from controversy claiming there were 15,000 incompetent teachers and saying this year that relationships between teachers and pupils could be "educative and experiential". He has enjoyed the staunch backing of Tony Blair and David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for education.