Sunny

Sunny

max temp: 15°C

min temp: 12°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Comment: Geoff Barton gives Ofsted a dressing down

09:30 19 February 2014

Headteacher Geoff Barton from King Edward VI School

Headteacher Geoff Barton from King Edward VI School

Archant

I’m beginning to wonder whether Sir Michael Wilshaw, the head of Ofsted, views his role as headmaster to the nation.

shares

Hardly a week goes by when he isn’t wagging a stern finger at us or pronouncing once again on what those of us working in schools should be doing more of, or (more often) less of.

I think he regards us – England’s 483,000 teachers - as if we were lined up for one of his assemblies, ready to sit on bony chairs only when instructed. God help the boy who unwittingly coughs as the last not of ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ evaporates in the dusty morning sunlight.

Last week Sir Michael was making clear that Ofsted inspectors will look more closely at the way teachers dress – whether we are tidy enough.

We’ve had him previously suggesting that a crack team of top teachers should be sent in to the country’s failing schools. These people, it seemed, would form some kind of hit squad, ready to tackle the complacency and remitting low expectations of England’s worst performers.

But why would you take a brilliant teacher from, say, inner-city Hackney and draft her into a poor school in a coastal town for just two weeks? Anyone who knows anything about real learning knows that relationships matter, that great teachers do more than just deliver impersonal lectures, and that quick fixes are, by definition, short-lived.

A far better solution would be to look at how we incentivise the most committed teachers so that they want to work in our most challenging areas, rather than being parachuted in.

So it was a proposal that rose and sank without trace, a forlorn pebble plopped into the educational swamp.

Sir Michael also lambasted us in the state sector for not getting the brightest students into top universities.

I have to confess that this one stuck in my craw as the head of a truly comprehensive school where 17 students over four years have gained paces at Oxford or Cambridge and around 40% have got into Russell Group universities – this country’s so-called elite universities.

And so last week he was at it again. Ofsted, he declared, would pay more attention to what teachers were wearing.

To which – forgive my half-term non-standard English usage - I say: how bloody dare they?

More than most people I know, I subscribe to the principle that teachers should set the tone in their dress code for high expectations. At our school, we expect male staff to wear a jacket and tie and women to have a similar sense of formality.

We will pick up staff who aren’t following our agreed dress code. It’s an important part of our ethos, of our expectations. But doing that is my job – not Ofsted’s.

What next – are inspectors going to check that every school has a salad bar, or that books are only marked in red biro, that there’s no graffiti in the boys’ toilets?

Of course Sir Michael Wilshaw is perfectly entitled to express opinions. He has excellent credentials. Michael Gove once stood Sir Michael on a stage and described him as ‘my hero’.

Despite that, Sir Michael has done well.

But he does have a tendency to do what some pompously opinionated headteachers are criticised for – that is, for being pompously opinionated.

Given the growing concern over the inconsistency of Ofsted inspection teams, I think Sir Michael might be tactfully advised to focus more on the day job rather giving the impression of wanting to micromanage every classroom in every school.

There are enough big egos already in England’s education system. I know from – ahem – personal experience.

So, Sir Michael, could we all just get on with our day jobs?

--

Sixth Form joke:

A man was arrested for stealing helium balloons. Police held him for a while and then let him go.

shares

0 comments

Graham White, Suffolk NUT

Nearly 1,000 pupils were excluded from Suffolk primary schools in just one year – one of the highest rates in the country.

Health bosses in Suffolk last night pledged to work with the county’s NHS 111 phone service provider as new figures were released showing it has continued to miss targets in referring patients to clinical advisers.

Carl Robbins

A 40-year-old man who absconded from Hollesley Bay Prison has handed himself into police.

Southwold - a great place to retire to. Picture by Janice Poulson.

New research into the wellbeing of the country’s pensioners shows there is a lot to consider when it comes to deciding where best to spend your old age – with some places better than others when you decide to retire.

A small chemical spill was cleared up on the A14 westbound today.

Members of Jaffa running club, Carl Ashton and Clive sparkes, with Paul Winter of Ipswich building society title spencer of The Twilight Road Races with GB athlete Helen Davies

The race director of an inaugural night of elite and mass participation street racing in Ipswich has called for more amateur runners and fundraisers to enter the event.

David McGoldrick signs autographs at Portman Road.

A record-breaking crowd of more than 8,000 Ipswich Town fans flocked to Portman Road for the club’s annual open day today.

Four people have been arrested after a cannabis factory was found in premises in Mickfield Road, Stonham Aspal.

The incident happened on Norwich Road in Ipswich, oppositve Coes department store.

An Ipswich police constable involved in an alleged road rage incident has been convicted of dangerous driving by a jury at Norwich Crown Court.

The latest encampment on Holland Marshes.

Efforts are continuing today to move travellers from two sites in Tendring.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages