Headlines: October 22nd, 2004

Head teachers are raising concerns today over new school inspection plans and calling for changes to the procedure under which schools can appeal against an inspector’s findings. David Hart, the General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, has written to Ofsted Chief Inspector, David Bell listing defects in the system.In the letter Mr. Hart points out that under the current system the appeal adjudicator has little real power and that complaints take far too long to be dealt with. He says, too, that Ofsted Reports cannot be amended unless the Registered Inspector who carried out the Inspection agrees.

Mr. Hart fears the situation will get worse under the new Inspection System in the forthcoming Education Bill due to come into effect in September next year. His concern is that the Chief Inspector intends to publish reports arising from the new “short, sharp inspection system” within three weeks of the inspection giving little time for an appeal in cases where the report is flawed.

The letter to David Bell has been copied to the Education Secretary, Charles Clarke. Referring to the plan for reports to be published within three weeks, he writes, “This will make it virtually impossible for any appeal arrangement, let alone the existing inadequate provision, to prevent injustice where it exists. It must be made possible for appeal arrangements to be instituted that prevent publication pending an appeal including an opportunity for a second opinion, otherwise schools will have no recourse to justice where a report is seriously flawed.”

Mr. Hart believes it is essential that the new inspection system has credibility with Head Teachers and he said he was certain both the Chief Inspector for Schools and the Secretary of State would want an Appeal Procedure in place to prevent incorrect reports damaging the reputation of schools.