Monday 20 May 2013

Ofsted - applying pressure, destroying lives

"Some teachers are paid too much for weak teaching" Ofsted School Report 2013

TV coverage of Michael Gove getting such a rough ride at the NAHT Conference last weekend will have put a smile on the face of many teachers and Heads.

It's no wonder Headteachers feel so strongly about Gove's attacks. When Ofsted declare a school as 'failing', the Head's job is often on the line. However, instead of standing up to this draconian regime, too many Heads try to defend their position by simply continuing the chain of bullying and piling pressure and demands onto their staff.

So, for example, while the NAHT are rightly lambasting Gove, they are regrettably also recommending a pay policy which accepts Gove's attacks on pay progression for mainscale teachers. Such an approach will only help Gove divide-and-rule in schools at the expense of education as a whole. It needs to be rejected.

Heads are undoubtedly responding in part to that all-pervasive fear of Ofsted 'failure'. They fear falling foul of the January 2013 ‘Subsidiary Guidance’ to schools, which, as I posted in February, asks inspectors to question whether Heads are linking pay to performance: 

Worryingly, it's becoming clear that this Guidance is now being applied by Ofsted. A recent Inspection Report that I have read on a primary school declares that 'leadership and management' is 'inadequate' because "some teachers are paid too much for weak teaching" and that "some teachers are overpaid even though they underperform".

These are political judgements, not educational ones. There is no educational evidence that linking pay to performance improves education. On the contrary, there is good evidence that it will cause division, demoralisation and arid 'teaching-to-the-test'.

If Ofsted is going to be used as such a blatant political tool to impose Government policy - including both privatisation and performance-pay - then unions must look again at whether a legal dispute can be launched that includes a boycott of Ofsted. 

Certainly, rather than imposing those damaging policies themselves, Headteachers should stand together with teachers and reject performance-pay. School staff should take united action to defeat these attacks and stand up together in the interests of our schools and our students.

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