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 354.

    At the end of the day we the taxpayer pay for the teachers therefore we have every right to insist that they are inspected, and to fall in line with other professions ie unannounced inspections. This is the only way you will have a true and honest account of what happens in a school!

  • rate this

    Comment number 283.

    Being a teacher of X number of years experience is not measure of being good, bad or excellent!
    An excellent head teacher is an excellent manager and an excellent leader, their teachers will perform well with or without their presence and will not mind impromptu inspections. Whilst a poor head teachers will want to run around with the inspector to try and hide their schools failings.

  • rate this

    Comment number 281.

    Dear Headteachers,
    Please stand up for our profession. I really do believe that government would be quite happy if we all left after 5 years. Then they would have a cheap workforce with less power. I don't mind anyone coming in to see me without notice. What I do mind, is someone coming in who is arrogant with a hidden agenda and who knows litttle about the subject I am teaching.

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    Having worked in secondry education i have seen 1st hand how schools tip each other off about inspections and how staff prepare for the coming inspection, hastily putting into place evidence of systems they had not used whilst unobserved. This is largley i feel why some inspecions fail, teachers carrying out lessons in a format that only happens when the inspectors are in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    I'm a parent of school age children. I think that Michael Wilshaw is generally a force for good. He seems to want schools to improve rather than wallow in self-satisfied complacency. All headteachers should be looking into how their schools could improve. It seems to me that the schools that have most of the answers are very successful schools in deprived or semi-deprived areas.


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