Teachers ask union to look into legality of mass walk-outs as inspectors arrive at school

Tim Lezard

NUT members have threatened to boycott classroom inspections, saying the pressure of hitting targets is forcing teachers out of the profession.

They passed a motion at their annual conference in Liverpool asking the union to look at ways to stage a walkout when Ofsted inspectors arrive at their schools. They also called for the resignation of chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw.

NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: “Teachers are now thoroughly fed up with an inspection body which does nothing for teacher morale or the improvement of education standards. Many schools are in constant fear of inspections and the ever changing framework against which they are judged. At its head is a Chief Inspector who believes that if ‘staff morale is at an all-time low’ Heads will know they are doing something right.

“Negative judgements handed out by Ofsted inspectors – often people with no recent teaching experience – have a huge impact on schools. The coalition government’s decree that schools who ‘fail’ their Ofsted inspection can be forced to accept academy status makes the process even more high stakes.

“Schools facing an Ofsted visit can spend much of their time focused inspection rather than teaching and learning in the broadest sense. All the evidence shows that many staff who could have continued making a valuable contribution to their school, decide prematurely that they cannot experience further inspections.  Many of England’s most experienced head teachers retire early because of their concerns that the next Ofsted inspection may have a negative outcome.

“No one would suggest that schools should not be accountable, but Ofsted is not the answer.   We need a rigorous system of school self-evaluation with light touch external moderation to ensure that schools are assessing their progress correctly.

“For the health and safety of teachers and for the good of education we must look at ways to change the inspection system.”


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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