Norfolk teachers give overwhelming thumbs down to Ofsted in EDP survey
07:00 09 February 2016
Ofsted has received an overwhelming vote of no confidence from Norfolk teachers in an exclusive EDP survey.
School governor responds to EDP teacher survey
Teacher recruitment needs to be looked at again, a senior school governor has said.
More than two-thirds of teachers in their second year in the profession who completed the EDP survey said they were considering quitting in the next three years.
Alex Robinson, chairman of the Norfolk Governors’ Network, said the numbers should “prompt us to look at teacher training and what expectations are being set, and how the profession is recruiting.
“Are teachers being adequately prepared for the pressures they are under, and, when they start, are they being adequately supported?
“I would question the way in which teachers are being recruited and trained, because a high dropout rate early on suggests that it’s not working as well as it should do.”
A total of 45pc of teachers who completed the survey said they had been put under pressure to inflate the results of coursework, assessments or exams.
Mr Robinson called for schools to have clear whistle blowing procedures, so any teacher being asked to do anything unethical felt safe in raising it with governors.
Asked about the 44pc of teachers who said they had suffered intimidation from parents in the last year, he said that what may not feel like intimidation to a parent may feel very different to a teacher on the receiving end.
He added: “I think social media is part of that. I think teachers would say there are parents who are increasingly confrontational, and less willing to work with schools.
“I think all governors should be concerned about teachers’ wellbeing, and these figures should make us all pause and think ‘Are we doing enough to support our teachers?’”
Nearly 450 Norfolk teachers took part in the survey, which sought the views of the people on the front-line of educating our children.
Yesterday, we reported on the pressure teachers feel to inflate pupils’ results, the intimidation they face from parents, and the growing number thinking of quitting the profession.
Today, we highlight attitudes to Ofsted, and the growing problem of mental health in schools - among staff and pupils.
Thumbs down for Ofsted
An overwhelming 85pc of teachers said they did not have confidence in the judgements of the school inspectorate Ofsted. This matters, because Ofsted judgements can have a profound impact on a school, from whether senior staff keep their jobs or to whether it becomes an academy.
The vote of no confidence came despite reforms last year which saw Ofsted remove 1,200 inspectors it did not believe were good enough, and recruiting more serving headteachers to the role.
Bob Groome, of the ATL union, said there was no consistency in Ofsted’s judgements.
Since 2014, Ofsted has issued guidance designed to bust “myths” about what they require of schools to prevent teachers being burdened with unnecessary paperwork, but Russell Hammond, of the NASUWT union, said some school managers use Ofsted as an excuse to demand these things.
An Ofsted spokesman said inspectors had been working with Norfolk school leaders to support improvement, and its own poll of parents found 72pc of parents thought Ofsted provided reliable information, and 90pc of schools leaders “found the demands of inspection were reasonable and that judgements were fair and accurate”.
He added: “School inspectors have all worked in the classroom and know what it is like to be inspected. Seven out of 10 of our new Ofsted Inspectors are serving heads and leaders. Inspection findings are always grounded in what inspectors see when they go into schools, and are based firmly in evidence.”
Rising problem of mental health in schools
The responses to our survey highlighted the growing issue of mental health problems in schools.
In total, 80pc of teachers said they had seen an increase in the number of children at their school with mental health problems, and 74pc said their school should do more to identify and support children with such issues.
The experience of front-line teachers chimed with a big increase in Norfolk children referred to the region’s mental health trust over the past three years, doubling from to 5,194 episodes of care in 2014-15, compared to 2,588 in 2011-12.
Ian Clayton, principal of Thorpe St Andrew School, said: “We do have a rise in students with more severe and chronic issues, like eating disorders, but we are also recognising them.
“Is there an increase in mental health issues?
“We are better at recognising it. Before, it might have been dispatched as bad behaviour.”
He said the increasing mental health problems teachers were seeing reflected increasing pressures on young people in wider society.
He added: “A lot of people are looking at schools, saying ‘what are you doing about it?’, but we are not the experts in mental health.
“We can only be the sign-posters of where these services are.”
The survey also showed 86pc of teachers reporting they had seen an increase in colleagues at their school suffering from stress, depression or anxiety, with the figures slightly higher in high schools than primary schools.
Norfolk County Council responds to concerns
The EDP’s survey of teachers raised concerns about the number of teachers thinking of leaving the profession, suffering intimidation from parents, facing pressure to inflate pupils’ grades, and seeing increasing mental health problems among their pupils.
The EDP raised these issues with Norfolk County Council.
In a statement, James Joyce, chairman of Norfolk County Council’s children’s services committee, said: “The significant improvements in Norfolk’s schools over the last two years shows the focus, energy and skill of teachers, Headteachers and Governors. As a result of this sheer hard work, the quality of teaching and leadership across Norfolk is now of a far more consistent high standard.
“Arrangements for the professional development and well-being of teachers is primarily the responsibility of a school’s governing board. Governors and Headteachers engage in a range of services as they work through issues and challenges thus ensuring that children and young people get the best possible deal.
“Undoubtedly, teaching is a complex and demanding job and with high demands. In Norfolk, no matter what school they go to, we expect teachers and school leaders to make sure that all children have the same opportunities to be high achievers.
“Teachers have a tough job in creating and maintaining high standards but we are grateful to them for the brilliant job they do in consistently ensuring that they put young people first.”
Are you a teacher who has experienced any of the issued raised in this story? Contact email@example.com