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Primary Education News
News Teachers threaten to boycott Ofsted school inspections
NUT conference overwhelmingly passes resolution calling for abolition of Ofsted and resignation of chief inspector
Teachers have threatened to boycott classroom inspections and called for the resignation of the chief inspector of England's schools.
Delegates at the National Union of Teachers annual conference in Liverpool said their colleagues were "dropping like flies" due to the pressure of inspections.
A boycott of inspections would be illegal, but teachers urged the NUT to investigate "as a matter of urgency" ways in which they could stage a walkout when inspectors arrived at their school.
Liam Conway, an NUT member from central Nottinghamshire, told the union's annual conference in Liverpool that teachers should "stop hiding behind legal impediments" to a boycott. "All things being equal, I think we should have boycotted Ofsted years and years ago," he told the conference. "We owe it to all of our teachers who are literally being torn to bits by education secretary Michael Gove and Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector of England's schools, and their band of crocodiles and lions," he said. "The union must do more to work out a way to boycott Ofsted. It is time to stop hiding behind legal impediments."
The conference heard that teacher suicide rates had gone up by 80% amid the increasing pressures of inspections.
A resolution calling for the abolition of Ofsted and for the resignation of Wilshaw was overwhelmingly passed. Wilshaw angered teachers by saying high stress levels were a good thing for the profession.
Toby Cadoux, an NUT member from Lambeth, south London, described Wilshaw as "an odious creature".
"We need to oppose inspection, we need to oppose a target-driven culture, we need to get rid of Sir Michael Wilshaw because he is an odious creature," he said.
"We need to reclaim our professionalism. Ofsted needs to wither and die."
But Simon Horne, a union member from Haringey, urged caution, suggesting that if the NUT pushed ahead with its campaign it could find itself isolated.
"In seeking to oppose everything and showing no willingness to compromise, I think we leave the union isolated," he said.
Horne argued that the union needed to show a "willingness to engage" with Ofsted, saying: "We can't be scared to open up our schools and we should have the professional confidence to be proud of what goes on in our schools."
An Ofsted spokeswoman insisted that the inspectorate was there to "champion the right of all children and learners to a good education".
She said: "Sir Michael has said from the outset that 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."
"Ofsted's first priority is to report on whether schools are providing children and young people with the quality of education they deserve," she said.
"Inspectors understand that teaching is hard work and can be stressful and do all they can to put staff at ease."