Ofsted chief angers unions with 'work harder' comments

Sir Michael Wilshaw Sir Michael Wilshaw wants schools to be more selective when awarding teachers pay rises

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Teachers' leaders have criticised England's chief inspector of schools after he said they must work extra hours if they want a pay rise.

Sir Michael Wilshaw also told the Times that teachers who were "out the gate at 3pm" should not be promoted.

Members of staff who went the "extra mile", Sir Michael explained, would be paid well and receive promotion.

His comments angered the National Union of Teachers, which said wages should not be decided at the school level.

NUT deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney said Sir Michael's remarks increased fears that he "wants to be at war with teachers in this country".

"Teachers' pay should not be determined by head teachers at the school level. We don't want a system where head teachers pick and choose favourites for pay rises," he added.

'Playing politics'

Earlier this month the union voted in favour of strikes over pay. It has warned of joint strikes with another teaching union, the NASUWT.

The general secretary of the NASUWT, Chris Keates, accused Sir Michael of being a "mouthpiece for myths and misinformation."

She said: "It is time Michael Wilshaw stopped playing politics and doing the bidding of the secretary of state - and engaged in a serious debate about how to promote excellence throughout the education system.


If the Ofsted chief's comments on pay have sparked strong responses from teachers' unions, it is because they touch on raw nerves.

Rumbling away in the background for months has been the controversial suggestion that teachers' pay should not be settled by a national deal but on a regional, local or individual school basis.

Academies can already set their own pay, but they have not necessarily wanted to exercise these powers.

Any further push in that direction would raise tensions between teachers' unions and the coalition.

Sir Michael's intervention over teachers' pay will also re-ignite the accusation from unions that Ofsted's direction of travel is too closely dovetailed with government policy.

Ofsted has never exactly been popular among teachers, but this year's teachers' union conferences saw particularly intense attacks on its alleged lack of independence.

And anyone who has ever known a teacher will know that the quickest way to annoy them is to suggest that their working day ends when the school bell rings.

"Teachers are in the second year of a public sector pay freeze, and evidence shows that teachers who have earned pay progression are being denied it."

Justify rises

In the Times interview Sir Michael, who is head of Ofsted, said: "In last year's [annual] report, we said that 40% of lessons overall were not good enough. And yet everyone is getting a pay rise. Hey! Something is wrong with the system."

He said that school inspectors had been told to challenge head teachers and governors to justify pay rises to teachers and to give a lower rating to schools that increase staff pay without good reason.

He also wants schools to be more selective when awarding pay rises to teachers.

He said: "It will mean some will get pay rises, some won't.

"As a head I would make it clear that if you teach well or try to teach well, if you work hard and go the extra mile, you are going to get paid well. You are going to be promoted. Somebody who is out the gate at 3 o'clock in the afternoon is not. Isn't that fair? Am I being unfair?"

Sir Michael also said any teacher who did not wish to act as a surrogate parent in poor areas to pupils who lacked support at home did not deserve a salary increase.

He said: "We just have to accept the reality of that. If you are going to go and work in these areas, there has to be a commitment to working beyond the end of the school day.

"That's why I asked those questions about performance management. It's about recognising those people who do go the extra mile."

In response to Sir Michael's interview, an Ofsted spokeswoman said the organisation's inspections of schools were "based on the quality of teaching and learning."

"Teachers' pay should reflect their performance, and should correlate with their career progression," she said.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 1446.

    I am a teacher, I don't say I work any harder than anyone else. But I am shocked at the hatred people have for people in my profession. I studied for 4 years and chose to work in an inner city school. I have never met a teacher who leaves at 3, doesn't work in holidays, take on responsibility they don't want or not go that extra mile. We are not what we are made out to be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 814.

    Most office jobs, you are expected to work hours of unpaid overtime, just to keep your job. And you don't get any inset days or weeks and weeks of holidays a year or a pension and for wages less than a teacher earns, pro rata or not, oh and we aren't allowed to take our work home, so seeing our families. Welcome to reality teachers. Glad you can join us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 756.

    I'm head of a science dept. in an inner city school. As well as a 7.30am-5pm day, dealing with admin/student welfare, evenings are spent planning/differentiating/prep for the next day. I agree that 'satisfactory' isn't good enough, but to plan/teach 25 lessons a week, + planning, marking, asessment, admin, will kill the strongest of characters in a matter of weeks resulting in increased absence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 755.

    Great salary, great pension, more holidays than anyone else and yet all we here from teachers is that they are over worked and stressed. Try hunting for I.E.D's in Afghanistan or working in the private sector where you won't have the job security, earnings or pensions that teachers enjoy. That is stress. If you feel that stressed maybe your in the wrong job. You lot need a reality check

  • rate this

    Comment number 659.

    Staying at school until late in the evening does not equate to 'working harder' nor does it reflect the quality of teaching. The best teaching occurs when staff get some time at the end of a gruelling day to refresh so they have something to give the next day. You can't get blood out of a stone. Wilshaw should understand that if he was the super head he was supposed to be.


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