Teachers stage ‘no confidence’ votes

Posted: March 30, 2013 by Rizwan Riyad in News, world
Tags: , , , ,

Teachers in a major union are expected to debate no confidence votes on the Education Secretary Michael Gove and the head of England’s schools’ inspectorate, Ofsted.

Sir Michael Wilshaw was asked to be chief inspector by Michael Gove

Members of the NASUWT and National Union of Teachersare holding their annual conferences this weekend. The NUT, meeting in Liverpool, is expected to hold votes on Mr Gove and Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw.The NASUWT will hear calls for an overhaul or abolition of inspections.

It claims the government’s education policies are “destructive” and that Ofsted inspections are undermining confidence in England’s education system.

The two unions are in dispute with the government over pay, pensions and workload. A fresh wave of strikes is expected in the summer.

These will be local strikes, but national strikes are also being planned for later in the year.

The coalition has brought in widespread changes to education since it came to power three years ago, and says these will help drive up standards in England’s schools.

The two big classroom teachers’ unions oppose many of the changes, particularly the move towards academy and free schools and performance-related pay.

The NASUWT, meeting in Bournemouth, has published a survey of nearly 3,000 of its members, which found nearly all (95%) of respondents said the school inspection system operated “in the interests of politicians rather than the public or pupils”.

Education Secretary Michael Gove

And 80% said they agreed that the current model of school inspection “unfairly undermines public confidence in the education system”.

The survey was carried out online by the union last month.

The general secretary of the NASUWT, Chris Keates, said teachers understood the need for inspection, but believed it had become too “high stakes” because a bad Ofsted rating could lead to a school being taken over or turned in to an academy.

“Teachers recognise that public services have to be accountable. They are not afraid of inspections but they feel it has become an unproductive and punitive regime,” she said.

“And they are deeply concerned about the politicisation of Ofsted. It’s now holding schools to account and has become a hit squad for the implementation of government policy.

“It’s creating a climate of fear in schools and doing nothing to raise school standards.”

‘Outstanding’

Ofsted has been built up by the government, which sees it as a key way of protecting and improving standards in schools, especially since many schools are becoming academies, which are independent from local authorities.

Chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw has cut the categories schools are rated by, scrapping the “satisfactory” rating. He says all schools should be “good” or “outstanding”.

He has also called for a sharper focus on teaching, saying schools should only be given the highest rating – outstanding – if they are ranked outstanding for teaching. In the past, this did not have to be the case.

‘Tough message’

Sir Michael was not available to be interviewed, but a spokeswoman for Ofsted said: “Sir Michael has said from the outset any provision that is less than good is not acceptable.

“That’s a tough message, especially for those schools and colleges that have been coasting. It’s inevitable that when you challenge the system to do better, you will get some pushback.”

She said the inspectorate had a new regional structure which gave “support as well as challenge” for schools and promoted improvement.

It was working towards its ambition of “ensuring a good education for every child”.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “We need an education system that is on a par with the world’s best.

“Our academies programme is turning around hundreds of underperforming schools, we are introducing a world class curriculum and our reforms to exams will create qualifications that will keep pace with the demands of universities and employers.”

Source : BBC

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