Letter: School inspectors alive and well

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The Independent Online
Sir: Not for the first time in the national press rumours of the demise of Her Majesty's Inspectorate have been greatly exaggerated ('Poor report for national curriculum', 30 December; 'Funding formula 'needs to change' ', 31 December). In relaying the findings of two HMI reports, your education staff repeated the canard that the inspectorate has been abolished and these reports were its swansong.

You are wrong on both counts: Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools are alive and well as the professional staff of the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), the new government department responsible for the regular inspection of all English schools. A major new programme of publications by HMI under the Ofsted banner will start over the next few weeks.

There is a basic misunderstanding about the role of HMI within Ofsted - compounded, surprisingly, by Eric Bolton, the former Senior Chief Inspector, in your story today. Monitoring the new independent inspection system is but one area of responsibility for Ofsted's HMI. Just as significant is its statutory duty to report on educational issues, and to continue to provide advice to the Secretary of State on the health of schools in England.

Far from HMI being abolished and its voice silenced, by becoming part of Ofsted and truly independent from the Department for Education, its observations and commentary on the education scene will carry more clout than ever.

What is more, the decision about publication of those observations no longer rests with ministers but with me, as Her Majesty's Chief Inspector. Watch this space.

Yours faithfully,

STEWART SUTHERLAND

Her Majesty's Chief Inspector

of Schools

Ofsted: Office for Standards

in Education

London, SE1

31 December

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