Bias fear over school inspections

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Indy Politics
FORMER local authority inspectors who will predominate in the new privatised school inspection teams must guard against bias towards schools which have opted out of council control, a Government minister said yesterday.

Baroness Blatch, Minister for Schools, told a conference organised by the Centre for Policy Studies, the right-wing think tank, that there were worries about inspectors in authorities which had been hostile to opted-out schools: 'I think we need to allay fears that any kind of hostile subjectivity will creep into the system.'

Under the new system, Her Majesty's Inspectorate has been sharply reduced and replaced by teams, which will have to tender for contracts to inspect schools. Traditionalists, who blame HMI and local authority inspectors for schools' failings, were dismayed when they discovered that most of the successful teams were from local authorities.

Katie Ivens, of the Campaign for Real Education, argued that former local authority inspectors should not be allowed to inspect schools in their own areas when the law says inspectors should have no connection with the schools they inspect.

However, Stewart Sutherland, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools, said that any suggestion of bias would lead to inspectors immediately being removed from the approved list. A member of HMI would monitor the first inspections when the teams start work in the autumn.