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The BBC's Education Correspondent, Mike Baker
"He has often seemed more politician than civil servant"
 real 56k

General Secretary NASUWT, Nigel de Gruchy
"He alienated virtually 99.9 per cent of teachers"
 real 56k

Education Secretary David Blunkett
"Has clearly found a different niche in life"
 real 28k

Shadow education secretary, Theresa May
"I am very sorry to see him go"
 real 28k

Thursday, 2 November, 2000, 20:57 GMT
Schools watchdog Woodhead resigns
chris woodhead
Chris Woodhead: Combative character
The controversial chief inspector of schools in England, Chris Woodhead, is resigning.

The Department for Education said Mr Woodhead was to become a newspaper leader writer with the Daily Telegraph.

A source said he had been discussing such a move for about a month.

His three months' notice would take him to the end of February but he will clear his desk on 30 November.

His current deputy, Mike Tomlinson, will then take over until a new chief inspector is appointed.

The Education Secretary, David Blunkett, paid tribute to Mr Woodhead's role in raising standards in schools.

But he added: "I think anyone who feels their role is better to be played writing for The Daily Telegraph or being a consultant to a PR company has obviously found a different niche in life."

'Clear role'

In asking Mike Tomlinson to take over, Mr Blunkett said he wanted someone who would carry on the clear role of "evaluation from the evidence base" rather than getting involved with the media and facts outside the role of Ofsted.

mike tomlinson
Mike Tomlinson: Interim replacement
The Telegraph's editor, Charles Moore, said he was delighted at Mr Woodhead's appointment.

"He has been consistently identified with the cause of high standards and educational improvement," he said.

"His advice will be of immense benefit to our readers and to the cause of good education."

Mr Woodhead said in a statement: "I am greatly looking forward to joining The Daily Telegraph. It is the best forum for public debate on the subjects which most concern me, and I hope to be able to make a valuable contribution."

I am very sorry to hear the news of Chris Woodhead's resignation, it's a sad blow

Theresa May, shadow education secretary
The shadow education secretary, Theresa May, said: "I am very sorry to hear the news of Chris Woodhead's resignation, it's a sad blow.

"He's done an excellent job and will be a hard man to replace.

"I am just sorry the education world, and most particularly the inspection world, is losing someone who is so committed to standards in schools."

She declined to comment on his new job, saying that was a matter for him.

Clash with MPs

Mrs May said she did not agree with people who claimed Mr Woodhead had an attitude problem.

The move comes the day after Mr Woodhead was involved in ill-tempered exchanges with MPs on the Commons education select committee, during which he rejected allegations that his style detracted from the good work of the inspectorate, Ofsted.

He also rejected the idea that he needed to be more accountable.

His remarks clearly annoyed the chairman, Labour MP Barry Sheerman - not for the first time.

'Frustrated politician'

Mr Sheerman said of the resignation: "We had a tough relationship. After all, he is responsible to my committee, to Parliament, so always gets some tough questioning from me and my committee.

I think he is a frustrated politician and it does not surprise me that he is going off to The Daily Telegraph

Barry Sheerman, education select committee chairman
"I would pay tribute to Chris but maybe it is time for Ofsted to have someone new at the helm."

He had seen the move coming.

"I think he is a frustrated politician and it does not surprise me that he is going off to The Daily Telegraph to become a leader writer," he said.

"That is what he likes to do. He likes to write and he likes to be controversial and I think he was finding the two roles difficult to hold together."

Liberal Democrat education spokesman Phil Willis had called for the government to sack him on Wednesday for allegedly bringing Ofsted into disrepute.

He said Mr Woodhead had demonised the teaching profession.

"I am delighted that teachers will now be left to get on with their jobs without Chris Woodhead demoralising them," he said.

"Chris Woodhead drove out creativity in education. A key attribute of his successor must be a creative mind."

Unions delighted

Mr Woodhead is noted for his pronouncements on matters not directly covered by his remit as the chief inspector of schools.

It's good news for teachers. It is long overdue

Union leader Nigel de Gruchy
He has become something of a hate figure for many ordinary teachers and their union representatives, not least because he once suggested that some 15,000 teachers were incompetent.

Teachers' unions greeted the news of his departure with delight.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said: "I think it is a good day for teaching and indeed for education.

"The education service needs teachers with high morale and Chris Woodhead has done more than anybody to emphasise the negative and play down the positive."

Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Union of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: "It's good news for teachers. It is long overdue.

"I think over the last few months he was on a suicide mission and teachers will breathe a sigh of relief."

Mr Woodhead is unembarrassed by the fuss his comments routinely cause, believing that he should speak bluntly on behalf of parents when he finds that things are not up to scratch.

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See also:

02 Nov 00 | Education
The man teachers love to hate
01 Nov 00 | Education
Woodhead spars with MPs
04 Sep 00 | Education
Woodhead wants harder A-levels
10 Feb 99 | Education
Woodhead defends 'blunt' message
18 Apr 00 | Hot Topics
What is a failing school?
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