Teachers to get inspections referee

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The Independent Online
TEACHERS aggrieved about the conduct of Ofsted inspections will be able to complain to an "Ombudsman", the Government is due to announce next week.

David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education, and the Chief Schools Inspector, Chris Woodhead, will announce the appointment of an independent arbitrator, fulfilling a pledge made last year in the education White Paper.

The move will be welcomed by teachers' leaders and critics of Ofsted, who have complained about a "reign of terror" being conducted in schools.

But sources at Ofsted were quick to make it clear that the new complaints procedure will not be a "court of appeal" over judgements in inspection reports. "This will not be an opportunity for a school to seek to change a judgement that it is failing to deliver an acceptable standard of education," they said.

Ofsted said that there were a "tiny" number of complaints about inspectors - either allegations about their conduct, or complaints that judgements were not based on evidence.

They were taken very seriously, the sources said. Inspectors were required to abide by a code of conduct - which included an insistence that judgements about schools were based on evidence, not "ideological baggage".

Schools with complaints about the conduct of inspections were encouraged first to take them up with the registered inspector leading the inspection team, or the contractor which employed them.

Most were resolved by "sensible communication" at an early stage. If this proved impossible, complaints were dealt with by Ofsted officials.

The new arbitrator would offer a further, independent complaint mechanism.

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