Letter: Firm but fair primary school inspection

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The Independent Online
Sir: The school inspection ('Trauma and tears when an inspector calls,' 15 September) is bound to be a stressful experience.

It is not, moreover, surprising that some schools disagree with the inspectors' conclusions. There would, after all, be little point in a national system of school inspections if the end result were in each case to be a simple acknowledgement that nothing could be done in a different or better way.

What is vital is that everything possible is done to minimise the inevitable stress and to ensure that every conclusion, positive and negative, is rooted firmly in the evidence.

The message from our inspections of secondary schools is that most schools see the inspection as an important contribution to their thinking about how the school should develop and a useful source of information to parents and the local community.

I see no reason why the same should not be true in the primary phase. We have, of course, experienced some difficulties in finding inspection teams to cover all the primary schools programmed for inspection this autumn. My first priority as the new Chief Inspector of Schools must be to ensure that these problems are solved. But beyond this I would be very grateful if anyone who is involved over the next two months in the inspection of primary schools - teachers, heads, governors, parents and the inspectors themselves - who has thoughts about how the system might be improved could write to me.

The challenge is to develop an approach to the inspection of primary schools which is rigorous but impeccably fair. We shall meet this challenge and we shall avoid, wherever it is humanly possible, both tears and trauma.

Yours faithfully,

CHRIS WOODHEAD

Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools

Office For Standards in

Education

London, SE1

16 September

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