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Blame for poor staff is on your own head


How does the Office for Standards in Education view members of staff who are disillusioned, unable to leave and holding back other staff by their attitude and negative input? Will inspectors sympathise with the headteacher who is stuck with them and help to deal with them?


It is important to understand that unlike local education inspectors and advisers, it is no part of the function of OFSTED inspectors to become directly involved, or to play an active part in the business and management of a school. Their function is to identify strengths and weaknesses, so that the schools themselves may improve the quality of education offered and raise the standards achieved by their pupils.

In that context you may be sure they will pinpoint inadequate or poor teaching and will refer to it in the report, without specifically identifying the teachers involved.

Such teaching would of course detract from the overall performance of the school and staff and might significantly influence the section of the report concerned with efficient management.

Inspectors may well sympathise privately with the plight of heads faced with the problem of indifferent or incompetent staff. But that does not mean they will exempt the governors, head or, indeed, members of a senior management team, from blame for what would be, in effect, a serious defect of management - failure to deal in a proper and prescribed way with staff who are not meeting their educational obligations to the children.

Inspectors will expect to find evidence that failing staff have received the guidance, support and direction established in codes of professional behaviour and that ultimately, where necessary, appropriate disciplinary action will have been taken.

OFSTED inspectors will "help" heads to deal with failing staff, but only in the sense that they are likely to make corrective action a requirement of "key issues for action" in the final report.

But they are just as likely to reflect unfavourably in the section on efficient management of the school on any failure to deal with the issue in the first place.

Bill Laar is a registered inspector. Questions may be addressed to him co The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. Please include your name and address, which will not be published.

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