Teachers want Ofsted’s ‘reign of terror’ abolished, union says

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Pressure on the school inspections system in England continues to mount as teachers called for the end of Ofsted’s “reign of terror”.

A motion calling for Ofsted to be abolished was approved at the NASUWT’s annual conference in Glasgow on Monday.

It joins the National Education Union (NEU) in calling for an immediate freeze of inspections to allow for full mental health assessments to be carried out on teachers and school leaders.

Union delegates told the conference they live and work in “fear” of inspections which rate schools in England between “outstanding” and “inadequate”.

It comes after the death of Ruth Perry, headteacher at Caversham Primary School in Reading, Berkshire, who killed herself in January while awaiting an Ofsted report which downgraded her school from the highest rating to the lowest possible.

Ofsted protest
A photograph of headteacher Ruth Perry attached to the fence outside her school in Berkshire (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“Let’s put an end to this peddler of misery. Let’s end this reign of terror and abolish Ofsted.”

Meanwhile, proposer Martin Hudson, from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, said: “Ofsted is the scourge of the classroom and the destroyer of teachers.”

He added: “There’s a genuine and deep-seated fear of Ofsted amongst teachers and this is completely unacceptable.”

Julie Parkin, of the same branch, said school leaders and teachers are placed under “immeasurable pressure” as they prepare for inspections.

“And that’s without the months of preparation beforehand, even when those headteachers don’t have those requirements of staff.

“The members themselves are made to feel that they should be upholding their part in proceedings, feeling that they can’t be seen to be letting the side down.

“The fear of dropping grades to ‘requires improvement’ or, worse, ‘inadequate’ and ‘special measures’ leads to an increasing workload.”

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has also indicated that it could take legal action against Ofsted following its failure to suspend inspections after Ms Perry’s death.

It instructed the union’s national executive to work with other education unions to call for an immediate freeze and launch a campaign for the abolition of the inspections system in its “current form”, replacing it with a supportive framework.

An Ofsted spokesman declined to comment on the NASUWT’s proposals, but said: “Inspections are first and foremost for children and their parents – looking in depth at the quality of education, behaviour and how well, and safely, schools are run.

“Our inspectors are all former or current school leaders who fully understand the pressures of the role. We always want inspections to be constructive and collaborative, and in the vast majority of cases school leaders agree that they are.”

The watchdog also said it does not grade individual teachers or lessons, with the new inspection framework focusing on the curriculum and what children are learning.

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