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Ofsted chief: schools are undermined by teachers' 'resentment of all things managerial'

Uncooperative teachers who refuse to take orders from their heads are preventing schools from raising standards, Ofsted's chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw has claimed.

Many heads' efforts to improve their schools are being undermined by a "pervasive resentment of all things managerial", he told the Westminster Education Forum in London this morning.

"How many teachers not only grumble about their manager's decisions, which is natural, but also question their right to even make them?" he asked.

"Even today,” he continued, “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."

While acknowledging that some leadership teams require improvement, Sir Michael laid the majority of the blame at the feet of a troublesome section of the teaching workforce.

"I've come to the conclusion that many of [school leaders'] 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. While it's true that we all share a common purpose, our responsibilities are not the same."

Heads, too, were often guilty of pandering to their staff, the chief inspector added.

"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."

Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, accused the chief inspector of "an attempt at headline grabbing".

"School leadership is about inspiring and leading a team and where needed working effectively in collaboration with other schools," she said.

"Sir Michael Wilshaw would do better to address the problems that the present system of Ofsted inspections causes for education in this country rather than uttering such ridiculous criticism of teachers."

Sir Michael is unlikely to be too concerned about the reaction. It was "misguided", he concluded, for school leaders to think that they "must take the staff with us at all costs".

His style of leadership, he told today's event, “owes a bit to Nelson Mandela, a bit to Machiavelli, a bit to Clint Eastwood and an awful lot to Frank Sinatra”. There was little evidence of the legendary crooner’s silver tongue this morning.

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