Heads attack chief inspector's 'bully boy tactics'

Sir Michael Wilshaw Head teachers at an annual conference have criticised Ofsted chief, Sir Michael Wilshaw

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Head teachers have accused England's chief inspector of schools of "bully boy tactics" against their profession.

The National Association of Head Teachers said it would have expected more from Sir Michael Wilshaw, a former head himself.

The NAHT said it was "both saddened and dismayed" by Sir Michael's "negative rhetoric" and said his support was needed to help teachers and pupils.

Ofsted said the intention was to work closely with good heads.

Oxfordshire head teacher Mike Curtis proposed a motion at the NAHT conference in Harrogate saying the conference was "saddened and dismayed" by the approach taken by Mr Wilshaw.

Start Quote

We must stand up to the bully-boy tactics of Michael Wilshaw”

End Quote Mike Curtis Oxfordshire head

Introducing the motion, he said: "Can we really put our trust in Her Majesty's Chief Inspector? I suggest not.

"Successful careers are damaged or destroyed on a daily basis as more schools are put into categories.

"Fear reigns and confidence wanes as Ofsted waves its stick. We must stand up to the bully-boy tactics of Michael Wilshaw.

"We need to send a strong message to Michael Wilshaw to say that we have had enough.

"We deplore his negative rhetoric which is demoralising our members and is creating a climate of fear in schools."

Strained relations

On Saturday, delegates put forward a late motion for discussion which called for a vote of no confidence in the chief inspector.

However, after debate, the NAHT decided the wording of it was too strong and amounted to the same sort of bullying rhetoric they were criticising.

Start Quote

We are saddened by Sir Michael, especially as he was a head once”

End Quote Bernadette Hunter NAHT vice-president

Overnight, the association drew up a new motion which was put before members on Sunday morning.

The NAHT voted overwhelmingly in favour of the new motion, with 98.9% voting yes.

The motion represents a further straining of relationships between the NAHT and Ofsted, coming just days after the association raised concerns about the quality and impartiality of school inspections.

A poll of over 2,000 school leaders, conducted by the union, found almost half (45.3%) believed Ofsted made no contribution to, or actively prevented, standards being raised.

Nine in 10 (89.9%) were either unhappy or very unhappy about the tone and content of recent announcements by the watchdog.

Ofsted has recently announced plans - that are currently out for consultation -, to introduce no-notice inspections for all schools and to scrap the "satisfactory" rating and replace it with "requires improvement".

'Intolerable stress'

Vice-president of the NAHT and Staffordshire primary school head teacher Bernadette Hunter said Ofsted was putting an "intolerable amount of stress" on heads.

Ms Hunter said the "horrible rhetoric" from the schools watchdog was putting people off becoming head teachers.

"We are saddened by Sir Michael, especially as he was a head once."

A spokeswoman for Ofsted said: "Ofsted has been listening to the views of head teachers, teacher and parents about its proposed changes to school inspections and will announce the results of its consultation at the end of the month.

"The intention is to work closely with good heads as they drive improvement in their schools."

Inspection U-turn

The debate comes despite Education Secretary Michael Gove signalling a U-turn over Sir Michael's plans for no-notice inspections of schools from September.

Addressing the conference on Saturday morning, Mr Gove said the proposals were likely to be dropped.

The plans, announced by Sir Michael in January, caused anger among head teachers, who currently receive 48 hours' notice.

The NAHT welcomed Mr Gove's speech, saying heads had a right to make sure they were on site for inspections.

Sir Michael took up his post in January. He was previously executive head of Mossbourne Academy in Hackney, east London.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 146.


    Me a teacher? No! I work hard for a living, earn much less and my work isn't annually repetitive! I'm with you, their salaries should be reduced along with holidays!


  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    I would like Michael Wilshaw to persuade Michael Gove that all schools should continue to have regular Ofsted inspections. Schools that have previously been judged as outstanding are now not being inspected regularly. Their results may be looked at every 3 years or so and if still good, they won't be reinspected. Some schools get good results because of a lot of extra private tuition going on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    Gove and Wilshaw haven't got a clue. OFSTED is a very poor body.
    How on earth can you assess if a school in general, if the assessors don't sit in all lessons and those that they do sit in they are only there for 3 or 4 minutes. The whole process needs completely rethinking by someone who isn't involved in government in any way shape or form. Children Teachers and schools are let down by OFSTED.

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    135. Ranger
    Right, six figure salary. And you have the temerity to hound teachers about their pay. Unbelievable. And other than blind assertion what is your claim that 'Teachers earn a lot but don't work that hard' based on? Do you have any evidence, whatsoever, for either claim?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    Year on year, examination grades have gone up. Did the teachers set the exams? NO! Yet we are being fed the lie that standards are falling despite evidence to the contrary.
    If an exam can be passed by EVERYONE, then there is no point doing it. WHY do we expect every child to leave school qualified? Even in the halcyon days kids left school with nothing. My brother was one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    The national curriculum is supposed to be the floor level. If teachers concentrate on teaching then you can have confidence that the pupils will perform. whilst a head may wish to be in school for the inspection,a school should still be performing.
    There is a problem with the inspection
    there is a problem with schools performing for the inspection.
    This fraud should be grounds for dismissal

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    It is amusing that HTs are only now taking a stance against OFSTED when that bully Chris Woodhead was given a relatively free-ride. Any chance this is because of HTs having their pensions changed whilst in the past it was only their staff whom were pilloried as failing?
    Too many HTs are not worthy of the post, and being Academies means they have almost supreme control with little oversight above.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    Well Done to the Inspector of schools. For far too long Head Masters and Head Mistresses have prsided over crap schools with rubbish teachers. The only hope is in a Private Education System, with the Government fundinf EVERY CHILD, but NOT INSTITUTIONS/SCHOOLS

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    Intended as a support institution to encourage schools in sharing best pedagogical practice, Ofsted has evolved into an aggressive and dictatorial regime of bureaucrats and University academics who, with few exceptions, are haughty and arrogant towards hard working teachers who dread their inspections. Wilshaw and Gove need to learn some humility and respect for experienced teachers

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    Dear 132. disillusioned

    Your daughter may have been a fantastically strong teacher, but discipline starts at the top. If senior management in a school is too weak, lazy or liberal to take on the challenge of poor behaviour, the school will never get to grips with the problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    I worked as a teaching assistant in a secondary school. Almost every day I would fervently wish that an inspector or someone in authority would walk in and witness the distressingly poor lessons being offered. However of course when it was actually time for an inspection every teacher was able to spend several days planning special lessons - that day was completely incomparable to any other.

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    @ 125

    You are obviously a teacher. As an investment banker, I am fed up with having my profession slated. I make a good 6 figure salary but earn every penny. Teachers earn a lot but don't work that hard. Either bring their salaries down, or half their holidays. I dont like sending my taxes to finance the salaries of public sector workers. We are ALL in this together.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    Doctor Bob: Some would make the effort, if they could see people coming in who have jobs and telling that the basics to pick up are very worthwhile, cos you're going to get more stability and security in your guaranteed job at 16 and you won't have to wait to 40 to get it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    If satisfactory (the Oxford dictionary defines as 'fulfilling expectations) has suddenly become 'requires improvement', surely an incompetent Ofsted is using sleight of hand to shift blame? Oh....there's that blame word senior civil servants never ever use within their own teflon coated ranks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    My daughter is a Secondary school teacher who, in her time, has been assaulted and abused by both pupils and parents on one occasion leading to a miscarriage. I have no reason to suspect that the way she kept discipline or did her job justified this. One thing is clear, the raw material teachers are given to work with ie kids has progressively lowered in quality over the years. Bad parenting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    124. Ranger
    Where do you get the idea that teachers are overpaid? As a head of department in a demanding school, it is very difficult to attract high quality graduates who will work the average 60 hours a week for the starting salary of £21,000. They can get the same working less hours in a call centre. Constant labelling of teachers as 'useless' doesn't help either.

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    Whoever controls the measurement controls the result, and the system has always been rigged. What has changed is that it is now rigged, not to make public education look unrealistically good, but the opposite, so as to empower the privatisation agenda. The interests of the children are secondary, and those of the teachers actively under attack.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    I would like to expect more from teachers but also to pay them more. Teaching is a very important job: childrens' self esteem and future job prospects depend partly on their teachers. Teachers' status and pay needs to improve but in return they need to improve their teaching and results.

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    captainswing1...I too work in the East End of London. You are spot on. Our parents LOVE strong discipline in schools. Being white and middle class myself, I despair at the psuedo left wing white middle class parents who don't think their children need the structure. Strong discipline, high teaching standards & care for children. Sounds a lot like Mossbourne under, er, um, Sir Michael Wilshaw!

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    Also, if kids were guaranteed jobs or training at the end of school, at least till age 25, that would do a lot. You're just going to get a society people where people who want to learn, have an 'unfair advantage'. We are already 1/2 way there

    =>I'd say that as things are, kids who want to learn are at an unfair disadvantage


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