Suffolk: MP responds to union’s Ofsted criticisms

Dr Dan Poulter MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich

Dr Dan Poulter MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich - Credit: Archant

AN MP has hit back at the National Union of Teachers for its criticisms of Ofsted during its annual conference.

Graham White of the Suffolk branch of the National Union of Teachers

Graham White of the Suffolk branch of the National Union of Teachers - Credit: Archant

Teachers called for a boycott of school inspections as they warned they have no confidence in Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw.

Good teachers are “dropping like files” due to the pressures of inspections, the NUT conference in Liverpool heard, but MP Dr Daniel Poulter said the union’s comments did not reflect the positive response Education Secretary Michael Gove received when in Suffolk last month.

Speaking from the conference, Graham White, the branch secretary of the Suffolk NUT, said the new Ofsted framework was “punitive” and was demoralising teachers.

He said: “This is not the way to go about it - Sir Michael is entirely the wrong man for the job.

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“Our other major concern with ofsted is that the ‘two Mikes’ - Michael Gove and Sir Michael - seem to work together too much.

“Parents seem to think that Ofsted is a good thing for schools but they don’t realise that very often inspectors are not trained teachers or have not been teaching for many years and have no particular specialist knowledge - how can they make judgements about teachers today?”

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Dr Poulter, a Conservative who represents North Ipswich and Central Suffolk, said the union was putting heads, teachers and pupils under unnecessary pressure.

He said: “Michael Gove was in Suffolk only a few weeks ago and he met with about 60 heads from my constituency and the mood was good and positive and over the last two or three weeks I have visited five schools in my patch and have found morale to be very high. “I think while it is important to listen to concerns that are raised, it’s very dangerous for a union - be it a teaching union or anyone else - to say that they represent the whole of the teaching profession when they clearly don’t and to put themselves and other teachers into a difficult position.

“I think the Government has got to listen to concerns raised - Michael Gove did when he visited and there was some very positive feedback.”

Dr Poulter said he was “quite alarmed” at many of the comments coming out of the NUT conference and he feared pupils would be affected as a result.

He said: “It just seems as if when we have got them putting their members and those teachers who are not members of the NUT into a very entrenched position.

“Of course you get teachers with different views but on the whole they are positive and want to get on and work with the Government.

“The people who will suffer will be the pupils - and that’s not good for anybody.”

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