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Friday, 1 December, 2000, 11:08 GMT
New Ofsted chief says sorry
Mike Tomlinson
Mike Tomlinson: New man at the helm
The new chief inspector of schools in England has started in office with an apology to teachers for a disparaging remark he made some years ago.

Mike Tomlinson dismissed his words - "I don't give a monkey's toss for them, all I care about is the children" - as a careless statement.

He had apologised at the time, he added, and had also written to teachers' associations.

Mr Tomlinson, who took over from Chris Woodhead as head of the Office for Standards in Education on Friday, said he had regarded the comments as off-the-record.

"They do not reflect my view of the profession," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Improved standards

Mr Tomlinson went on to praise improvements in schools and in teaching standards.

"It was not that many years ago that we were talking about the stubborn 30% of teaching that was less than satisfactory," he said.

"That has been eradicated by the tremendous efforts of teachers.

"It is now no more than 5% or 6%, and that is feeding through to improve standards," he said.

Focus on writing

There was still work to be done on writing standards in schools, he added, especially among boys who were falling behind across the board.

Mr Tomlinson dismissed a claim from the National Union of Teachers that the role of Ofsted needed to be completely overhauled, saying it was right that schools had a "rigorous, credible inspection".

Later Mr Tomlinson gave details of a re-inspection of the local education authority in Liverpool.

The report was good news, he said, and showed that the problems observed by Ofsted last year were being resolved.

2001 inspections

Mr Tomlinson also announced the 16 local education authorities which will be inspected by Ofsted - in conjunction with the Audit Commission - during the summer term of 2001.

The authorities are:

Bracknell Forest, Redcar and Cleveland, Cheshire, Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Dorset, Stockport, East Riding of Yorkshire, Stockton-on-Tees, Harrow, Swindon, Havering, Torbay, Northamptonshire, West Berkshire, Peterborough and Wokingham.

Mike Tomlinson on BBC Radio 4
"I apologise again for that statement"

Woodhead quits
Fond farewell or good riddance?
See also:

16 Nov 00 | Education
New head of Ofsted confirmed
03 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Woodhead a political time bomb
02 Nov 00 | Education
The man teachers love to hate
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