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Tuesday, March 10, 1998 Published at 04:01 GMT


Ombudsman to oversee school inspections

Teachers unhappy with the conduct of their school inspections will soon be able to complain to a new ombudsman.

The Education Secretary, David Blunkett, and the Chief Schools Inspector, Chris Woodhead, are announcing the appointment of the independent arbitrator on Tuesday, fulfilling a pledge made last year in the education White Paper.

[ image: David Blunkett:]
David Blunkett:
The move has been broadly welcomed by critics of the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), who have complained about a "reign of terror" in the nation's schools.

But Ofsted has made it clear that the new complaints procedure will not be a "court of appeal" over judgements in inspection reports.

A spokesman for the Office said: "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."

Inspections 'out of control'

Writing in the Times Education Supplement, the director of the University of London's Institute of Education, Peter Mortimore, said the inspection process was now "out of control".

"In my institution, there have been 12 inspections over the past three years," he said.

"These inspections have involved 20 inspectors for more than 150 days ... at great expense [to Ofsted]."

Head teachers have already criticised the proposals, describing the ombudsman as lacking in both purpose and power.

The General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, David Hart, said: "If this is just a complaints procedure about the way inspectors behave in schools, then we will have a toothless tiger on our hands."

"I am very fearful that is what it will be; just a procedure for rapping Ofsted inspectors over the knuckles without any real power."

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