Teachers stop moaning!

Well Sir Michael Wilshaw really does like to cause controversy, that much we know. But this is so controversial in a weird way I find it amusing.

Teachers should stop “moaning”, as they risk putting off potential recruits to the profession, Ofsted’s chief inspector said today.

Sir Michael Wilshaw claimed that too often the main classroom unions “endlessly list” the problems involved in teaching and “ignore its triumphs”.

By portraying teachers as “perpetual victims”, Sir Michael added, teachers’ leaders risk “infantilising” the profession, while also “depressing recruitment”.

“Far too many of those who claim to represent the profession endlessly list its problems and ignore its triumphs,” Sir Michael said. “Of course, teachers have their complaints. Of course, there are grievances. But there is a difference between a professional with a legitimate criticism and a serial complainer with another moan. One tends to be listened to; the other does not.”

He also adds that teaching can be ‘pure magic’ and called for the workforce to celebrate it’s profession. I don’t know about anyone else but for me, this current government and Ofsted aren’t necessarily giving us a lot to celebrate about at the moment, with a new curriculum coming in and a host of new schools that don’t adhere to the National Curriculum in the first place, almost breaking down our national education system into a series of local education systems, in a similar way to the US have varying laws for differing states.

His remarks drew stinging criticism from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), which said that the chief inspector needed to concentrate more on turning Ofsted into a more effective inspection agency.

“[Sir] Michael Wilshaw needs to stop picking fights with the teaching profession and focus on making Ofsted an inspection agency that is remotely fit for purpose,” Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL, said.

“What’s putting off people from entering the workforce is the fact teachers have excessive workloads, and mounting bureaucracy created by Ofsted. If anybody is undermining the profession, it is Her Majesty’s chief inspector who is too busy picking fights.”

Sir Michael was speaking at the North of England Education Conference in Nottingham, where he also questioned the quality of teacher training on offer in many universities and criticised the support given by schools to newly qualified teachers (NQTs). Too often, he said, training providers were sending NQTs into the classroom unprepared.

“It is a national scandal that we invest so much in teacher training and yet an estimated 40 per cent of new entrants leave within five years,” Sir Michael added.

The figures mean that Ofsted will be “much tougher” on training providers, as well as schools, who do not support NQTs starting out in the classroom. From September, every Section 5 inspection will seek the views of NQTs to hear how well-supported they are by their school and their training provider, which will then be reflected in the provider’s overall inspection grade.

One response to this I found particularly striking was a tweet I saw from GuardianTeach writer Mike Britland, who wrote: ‘Not a staff room moaner but why doesn’t Wilshaw look at current pay, conditions & talking down of teachers as a reason for the dropouts?’ It is no secret that teaching is a heavily underpaid profession, given how important it is to the economy and jobs market. It doesn’t help that we are relentlessly being attacked by Wilshaw, which will reduce our morale. But Wilshaw in a way does have a point. Training providers must be able to support NQTs etc, but what he said isn’t true for all providers. I would love to see him go through a current teacher training course and see how ‘unprepared’ he is after he leaves. Might be quite a shock. I would love to see him and Gove in a classroom and observe them teaching a lesson, given that they determine how our profession works.

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