Need for inspection

February 12, 1999

Peter Knight's recommendation that Ofsted handle higher education quality control (THES, "Outsiders looking in", February 5) is entirely logical.

It is, of course, true, that Ofsted has achieved a singular, some might say regrettable, double in recent years: terrorising and antagonising the teaching profession while simultaneously presiding over a collapse in real (as opposed to paper) academic standards. That collapse was well illustrated by Penny Davies's letter in the same issue. But to suppose that Ofsted's record would make it unfit for further missions is to misunderstand what it is about. Ofsted is not about quality. It is about providing political cover for inadequate government funding of education. From this point of view, it has done rather well, and will no doubt be encouraged to go on.

Andrew Knapp University of Reading

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