Does this man ever stop? Once again Ofsted Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw is on the attack of the teaching profession.
This time he’s claiming faint-hearted heads are failing to impose their authority on schools, resulting in low standards of education and poor discipline among pupils.
Sir Michael said school leaders are too worried about offending their teaching staff, many of whom have a ‘pervasive resentment of all things managerial’, and refuse to accept their place lower down the hierarchy.
In a hard-hitting speech in central London yesterday, the head of Ofsted said teachers were also failing to make it clear to children that adults are in charge. He said there was nothing wrong with telling children ‘Do as I ask, because I am the adult’.
But he suggested the problem stemmed from weak heads who lack the will and experience to lead from the top. Sir Michael said: ‘Too many teachers still think that school leaders do not have the right to tell them how to teach or what to do. The staff room, in their minds, is just as capable of deciding the direction a school should take as the Senior Leadership Team. I’ve come to the conclusion that many of their efforts are undermined by a pervasive resentment of all things managerial. Some teachers simply will not accept that a school isn’t a collective but an organisation with clear hierarchies and separate duties. What’s worse, far too many school leaders seem to believe that they don’t have a right to manage either. They worry constantly about staff reaction. They hold endless meetings to curry favour. They seem to think they cannot act without their employees’ approval. Yes, you should consult with staff. But never confuse consultation with negotiation.’
Children cannot ‘thrive in a chaotic school where there is little authority’, Sir Michael said, adding: ‘Indeed, children who come from homes where there are few boundaries need more structure at school, not less. Raising attainment is predicated on a culture in which heads do everything they can to reinforce not only their authority but the authority of all the staff in the school. If youngsters feel that they are in a more powerful position than the teacher, the teaching assistant or the dinner lady, that they can defy authority and do so with impunity, no amount of theorising about raising attainment will make much difference. There is absolutely nothing wrong in my view in saying to youngsters “Do as I ask, because I am the adult, I am older than you, I know more than you and, by the way, I am in authority over you”.’
He also warned too many headteachers lack vision for their school beyond a ‘natty slogan’, and don’t pay attention to detail. ‘It’s pointless concocting grand plans if the school playground is a mess, uniforms are slovenly, staff are too casual, children pay more attention to their mobile phones than to the teachers and the school reception has all the charm of the check-in desk at Ryanair,’ he said. ‘The best leaders get the details right because they know that these underpin the big issues of student achievement and progress.’
I can feel a chant of ‘WE WANT WILSHAW OUT!’ coming on right now …