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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 11 April, 2001, 18:00 GMT 19:00 UK
Inspections shake-up in schools
Mike Tomlinson
Mike Tomlinson: Warmly received by delegates
By Angela Harrison at the ATL conference in Torquay

Schools in England could have a say in their own inspections under plans for a wide-scale review of the system.

The Chief Inspector of Schools, Mike Tomlinson, has revealed that consultation on a new system of inspections will begin after the general election.

Among the proposals being considered is for schools to be allowed to submit their own self-evaluations of their performance as part of the monitoring system.

However, Mr Tomlinson said it would not mean schools would write their own reports.

"It doesn't amount to Ofsted pulling back from schools," Mr Tomlinson said.

Applause

"There is a need for an external, objective look by those not involved in the running of the school."

The chief inspector was speaking to journalists, shortly after addressing delegates at the conference of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, which gave him a warm reception.

Delegates applauded enthusiastically when he promised to work with schools on inspections.

He told them: "We hope to develop an inspection system that is done with you rather than to you."

Woodhead legacy

Mr Tomlinson's predecessor, Chris Woodhead, was widely disliked by teachers and the whole system of inspections has come under fire at the conference.

Wiltshire teacher Mike Short proposed a motion calling for the overthrow of Ofsted, which he called a "hit-and-run" operation, which came and went, leaving heartache behind.

He welcomed indications that Ofsted was interested in schools submitting their own evaluations.

"Ofsted has out-lived its usefulness," he told BBC News Online.

"I think the inspections or monitoring should be done between the schools and the local authority, because they have a vested interest in making schools successful."

The leaders of the ATL have also called for Ofsted to be made more accountable.

The union's general secretary, Peter Smith, said the present level of accountability was "feeble".

"It boils down to presenting the education secretary with an annual report and a twice-yearly appearance before the Commons education committee," he said.

The shadow education secretary, Theresa May, said: "There is scope for Ofsted to change the way it inspects schools, but for the sake of maintaining standards we need Ofsted to remain rigorous and independent."

In his speech, Mr Tomlinson also praised teachers for what he said were "great improvements" being made in education and in examination results.

"That improvement I regard as dramatic and encouraging and I thank you for that," he said.

See also:

06 Feb 01 | UK Education
31 Jan 01 | UK Education
01 Dec 00 | UK Education
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