Sir Michael Wilshaw, Chief Inspector of Schools, is on record
as saying, “If anyone says to you that ‘staff morale is at an all-time low’ you will know you are doing something right.” He has his wish – the morale of school leaders has plummeted and they are angry. On 6 May, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) passed unanimously the following emergency motion criticising Sir Michael’s style:
“We deplore his negative rhetoric which is creating a culture of fear in schools. We would have expected him, as a former fellow school leader, to understand that to get the best out of children and staff in schools, we need to both challenge and support.”
An amendment to the motion proposed setting up an e-petition
to obtain a parliamentary debate addressing concerns about Ofsted, and Oxford head, Mike Curtis, who proposed the motion, received applause when he told delegates that he saw no reason to rule out passing a vote of no confidence in Sir Michael in the future.
The NAHT surveyed its members before the Conference and the results are reported in TES (4 May 2012, not available on-line). They are not just bad news for Ofsted – they provide sobering reading for the Government. The NAHT found that 98.1% of heads think Ofsted judgements are subject to political interference, 97.4% think parents providing unverified data to Ofsted’s Parent View is unacceptable, 82% think changing “satisfactory” to “requires improvement” is unacceptable, 89.9% are unhappy/very unhappy about the tone of recent Ofsted announcements, and 72.9% believed no-notice inspections were not acceptable.
Mr Gove appears to be backtracking on no-notice inspections but the more serious complaints about Sir Michael’s approach remain. These concerns prompted the NAHT to set up an on-line satisfaction questionnaire for heads to complete after an Ofsted inspection. The survey, School View
, is not designed to name and shame individual inspectors. However, NAHT general secretary, Russell Hobby, told TES, “…where there are problems, we’ll be more than happy to talk about it in the press.”
TES commented, “If past experience is anything to go by, it will not be long before the performance of inspectors is back in the public eye.”