Commenting on Sir Michael Wilshaw’s launch of the latest Ofsted consultation, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“This is yet more aggressive rhetoric from a Chief Inspector who has obviously warmed to the task of attacking the teaching profession from any angle.
“The latest proposals about unpicking an ‘outstanding’ result for a school from the standard of teaching leaves Sir Michael Wilshaw’s proposals appearing to be more concerned with facilitating the Government’s policy of converting as many schools as possible to academy status than genuinely aiding school improvement.
“While no one would disagree that schools need to be performing to the best of their ability, Michael Wilshaw has to accept that the job of teaching is made more difficult depending on the home circumstances of pupils. No increased amount of haranguing of teachers or head teachers will alter this fact
“Research out this week by the Institute of Education showed that a quarter of children and young people are growing up in families facing multiple social problems at home, all of which can have a damaging effect on children's development. To overcome this very real problem Government needs to stop cutting schools’ and local authority budgets to ensure that schools have the support and resources needed to ensure every child achieves their full potential.
“Constantly moving the goal posts for the inspection of schools is unsettling. No notice inspections will keep schools looking over their shoulders in anxiety at the prospect of Ofsted’s arrival. This will simply add to the stress levels of teachers and do nothing to improve teaching. While it is essential that there are proper levels of accountability, just walking in and walking out of a school without a proper dialogue between inspectors and the profession is a pointless exercise.
“There is no justification for shortening the timescale for re-inspections of schools judged to ‘require improvement’. What needs to be achieved is sustainable rather than superficial improvement.
“Ofsted should take the opportunity presented by Michael Gove’s stated intention of trusting schools and teachers more to review the whole system of school inspections in England. They should look to and learn from the ‘light touch’ accountability systems of high performing countries such as Finland and New Zealand which are predicated on trusting schools and teachers to do the best by their students, rather than based on the idea that this can only be achieved through threats or penalties.”