Inspection system increasingly politicised
School inspectors are becoming education ministers’ hit men, representatives at the Annual Conference of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, will hear today.
Ninety-five per cent of teachers who responded to a new NASUWT survey into inspection said that they believe the schools inspections system operates in the interests of politicians rather than the public or pupils.
More than four out of five (81%) of teachers believe that the current model of school inspection unfairly undermines public confidence in the education system.
The survey found that:
- schools are being placed on a permanent war footing due to the high-stakes nature of the inspections system, with 92% of teachers saying that preparation for inspection is a bigger contributor to excessive workloads in their school than inspection itself;
- almost three quarters (73%) of teachers said that the expectations of inspection in their school mean that they are unable to adopt the most suitable approaches to teaching their pupils;
- 71% of teachers said inspection was leading to significant levels of stress among staff in their school. Over two thirds of teachers (67%) said activities before and after inspection in their school had also caused significant stress;
- 88% of teachers said they have had to work in the evenings and weekends and during holidays to prepare for inspection;
- nearly 80% of teachers said they are required to produce lesson plans, pupil assessments and other records in a specific format to satisfy the demands of inspection;
- nearly half (49%) of teachers have to undergo ‘mock inspections’ in their schools in anticipation of inspections;
- over 80% of teachers said that inspection is frequently or very frequently used in their school to justify the implementation of new policies and practices;
- 70% of teachers said that lesson observations are mainly undertaken to provide evidence for inspection, rather than to help teachers develop their skills;
- almost half (49%) of teachers said that outcomes of inspections had been used to unjustifiably criticise the competence and effectiveness of teachers in their schools.
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:
“Inspection systems should operate in the public interest. They should hold government policy to account, not be the agents of its implementation.
“Inspection is increasingly paralysing schools with fear.
“Inspectors increasingly are seen as ministers’ hit men. Neither the profession or the public can have real confidence in their judgements.”