Intolerable stress of anticipating inspection at any moment (and 'satisfactory' scrapped) (and ‘outstanding’ re-examined) (updated)

9 Feb

10 January 2012 (updated 17 January and 9 February below)

Commenting on Ofsted's plans for no-notice inspection for schools, Voice General Secretary Philip Parkin said:

"Voice has welcomed shorter notice inspections because of the enormous increase in workload and time taken in often unnecessary preparation for inspections.

"However, we would not welcome the introduction of no-notice inspections because of the strain they would put on teachers and support staff.

"Ofsted inspections are stressful at the best of times, but it would be intolerable to work under the constant and relentless stress of anticipating an inspection at any moment.

"Such a Big Brother approach is not the way to get the best out of people. If that is the way inspections are to go, it shows a distrust of, and disrespect for, the teaching profession and signals that the inspection regime has become too overbearing and needs to be reviewed and restructured to make it much more supportive and advisory.

"We hope that this new approach does not reflect Sir Michael Wilshaw’s strange and disturbing comments in December that 'if anyone says to you that "staff morale is at an all-time low" you will know you are doing something right'. Low staff morale is a bad thing and something that Ofsted should express concerns about rather than celebrate or encourage.

"Voice has long maintained that the whole inspection process should be far more supportive and advice-driven and far less judgemental."

Voice's concerns about Parent View

Ofsted’s plans for no-notice inspections

17 January 2012

Ofsted's Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has also confirmed his intention to scrap the 'satisfactory' judgement for school inspections.

Voice General Secretary Philip Parkin commented:

“Being ’satisfactory’ is less demoralising than ‘requires improvement’ and, by implication, a classification such as ’satisfactory’ needs improving upon.

“No school – even if it is given an ‘outstanding’ grade by Ofsted – is entirely perfect and, it could be argued, ‘requires improvement’.

“However, such a designation is likely to drive parents away, reduce numbers at the school, put additional pressure on other schools and make it even harder to improve than it would if it had been graded ’satisfactory’.”

Voice will give its full response to Ofsted’s consultation in due course.

9 February 2012:

Commenting on news that the Chief Inspector of Schools has confirmed that a quarter of schools rated 'outstanding' are to be re-examined because their teaching supposedly did not reach the highest standard, Philip Parkin, General Secretary of Voice: the union for education professionals, said:

"The Chief Inspector seems to be on an ego trip to prove how tough he is and that he can out-Woodhead Chris Woodhead.

"Re-examining 'outstanding' schools undermines completely the little credibility Ofsted had with teachers. It also undermines his own inspectors. Sir Michael clearly doesn't trust their judgement.

"As I've said before, Sir Michael Wilshaw seems to want to threaten schools rather than work with them.

"He seems to have adopted as a mission statement his strange and disturbing comment that 'if anyone says to you that "staff morale is at an all-time low" you will know you are doing something right'. Low staff morale is something that Ofsted should express concerns about rather than encourage.

"Such a Big Brother approach is not the way to get the best out of people. This demonstrates a distrust of, and disrespect for, the teaching profession and signals that the inspection regime has become too overbearing and needs to be reviewed and restructured to make it much more supportive and advisory.

"Ofsted inspections are stressful at the best of times, but it would be intolerable to work under the constant and relentless stress of anticipating a no-notice inspection at any moment."

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4 Responses to “Intolerable stress of anticipating inspection at any moment (and 'satisfactory' scrapped) (and ‘outstanding’ re-examined) (updated)”

  1. Richard Fraser 11. Jan, 2012 at 9:17 am #

    Interesting comment on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=213957398692563&id=42725946641

  2. Alan Beedie 12. Jan, 2012 at 9:15 pm #

    Michael Wilshaw seems to be even worse for the education system than Chris Woodhead was. I’m horrified by his comments.
    I’m head of a school judged Good overall at the last inspection, but I also know we spent months worrying about the call coming at any time, and that was very stressful. Whilst no-notice inspection might reduce that worry, we would still be expecting the call any time around the 3-year (or 5-year) period in which we would expect a re-visit.
    Schools would have to choose between living on a constant “knife edge” in this way, or accepting things may be far from perfect when inspectors do arrive unannounced.
    Wilshaw will only succeed in reducing the overall judgements across schools, with most schools dropping a category.

  3. Wesley Paxton 10. May, 2012 at 9:35 am #

    I heard on the news this w/e from NAHT conf that heads are quitting early to avoid ofsted inspections, esp short/no notice. I recall at a PAT [Voice] conference several years ago, I proposed a motion that all ofsted inspections should have no more than about 24 hrs notice, AND PERFECTION SHOULD NOT BE EXPECTED.

    I believe we passed it so why is this now seen as a problem? Months of notice enables schools to try to put on a totally unrepresentative Oscar winning performance that bears no relation to how the place normally operates. The inspectors need to see the place, warts & all so they can see what they have to contend with on a regular basis. Or have I missed something?

  4. Rebecca 10. May, 2012 at 10:51 am #

    Whilst I understand completely the idea that no-notice inspections may cause constant worry I would echo the comment above that PERFECTION SHOULD NOT BE EXPECTED – I work in a LA and am astounded at the advice/prep that schools get once they get the ‘call’ – the fact is that the minute Ofsted stop calling in advance, then they will see a true picture of school life.

    I was very much looking forward to seeing the first wave of these inspections – hoping that it would mean all involved would begin to take a realistic view of school life. A calmer and clearer approach to what inspectors see is what is needed. I think for the government to back pedal now means that this silly ‘Ofsted are coming quick…everyone in’ will continue, to the detriment of hard working staff, schools and the inspectors themselves who are then treated to a whitewashed view of a school.

    It is a shame; it was one of the few areas of change that I actually agreed with Wilshaw about – if all schools stopped laying out the red carpet for inspectors and just got on with it, then the whole profession would be much better off. Just turn up I say, we’re proud of what we do!

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