Letter to Mr Barry Sheerman MP, Education
& Employment Committee, from Mr Mike Tomlinson CBE, Her Majesty's
Chief Inspector of Schools
19 February 2001
I am responding to the Committee's Second Report,
concerning OFSTED's Corporate Plan 2000, which you published on
As you know, I have appointed Maggie Smith as the
Director of Early Years and she joins OFSTED on 1 March. I believe
Maggie will bring the necessary range of skills and experience
to the post and will ensure the transfer of early years regulation
work from local authorities is successful. Maggie will, of course,
be present on 21 March when we meet as part of the Committee's
consideration of my recent Annual Report.
I would like to assure the Committee OFSTED takes
very seriously the Report's remarks in respect of our dealings
with the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE). On 5 February,
Gurbux Singh, Chair of the CRE, and I had a fruitful meeting at
which we agreed both organisations would work together in a number
of areas in the future.
In addition, we are preparing a publication, The
Numbers Game, which provides guidance on the use of assessment
data in primary and secondary schools and will also be used for
the training of our inspectors. It will include a separate section,
Evaluating educational inclusion: Guidance to inspectors, which
inspectors are required to comment on
the school's results and the way in which their evaluation of
the performance of different subgroups of pupils is used as a
key management tool; and
that normally their analyses should include
reference to the separate performances and progress made by pupils
from different ethnic backgrounds.
DfEE is requiring schools to collect more data on
ethnic minority pupils. When the new system of individual pupil
records with their unique pupil numbers is fully operational,
OFSTED will be able to better identify and track the performance
of subgroups of the population, including ethnic background groups.
The new data will also allow improved comparisons with the national
A LEVEL STANDARDS
OFSTED will seek to avoid making any public statement
that is not based on clear evidence.
DURHAM COUNTY COUNCIL
Durham Education Authority's complaints have been
the subject of two internal OFSTED investigations, a complete
review by the independent OFSTED Complaints Adjudicator (OCA),
scrutinised by the House of Lords in an unstarred debate and the
subject of further scrutiny as part of the Select Committee hearing.
OFSTED considers this is demonstrative of its public accountability.
The OCA's annual report for 1999 commented in some
detail on OFSTED's handling of the case. As a consequence of recommendations
made by the OCA, some of OFSTED's procedures were revised. Overall
however, the OCA found the conclusion of OFSTED's investigation
to be sustainable and there was no need for the case to be reopened.
This is a matter of public record. There will be occasions, where
despite lengthy enquiries, the complainant remains dissatisfied
with the outcome. OFSTED is however confident it is fully accountable
through the processes detailed above.
Estelle Morris's response to the Committee of 13
February outlines the Government's proposals in respect of the
Committee's recommendations on swimming.
We note the Committee's recommendation that the HM
Chief Inspector should be accountable to a Board. The establishment
of such a Board would require primary legislation and is, therefore,
a matter for Parliament. However, we do not believe a Board would
add any significant value to the existing lines of accountability.