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Ofsted inspections 'promote unhealthy culture of fear', union claims

Ofsted inspections “promote an unhealthy culture of fear”, a teaching union has warned.

Voice, the only union that refuses to take strike action, has raised the concern in its manifesto ahead of May’s general election.

The manifesto also says that teachers’ workloads are “excessive” and driven by “external pressures” such as government reforms and Ofsted inspections.

“This leads to long working hours and an inability to achieve a reasonable work-life balance, which is beginning, as the economy picks up, to not only create a recruitment crisis but also one of retention,” the manifesto says.

It says teachers’ statutory right to anonymity if they are accused of crimes against pupils should be extended to other school staff.

This right should also apply to those under investigation for “disqualification by association”, for instance in cases where a teacher’s partner has been convicted of an offence, it adds.

Voice has used the manifesto to call for a reduction in teachers’ workload and the re-establishment of a national pay and conditions structure for all teachers, including those working in academies and free schools.

It calls for the establishment of a national pay and conditions structure for all staff in the FE sector and all school support staff. The latter are left “at the mercy of market forces and affordability” rather than being paid a salary that reflects the “worth and value of their qualifications, knowledge, experience and skill”, the union says. 

In response to the manifesto's criticism of its inspections, an Ofsted spokesperson said it was important for schools preparing for a visit by inspectors to "maintain a sense of proportion".

"We have been very clear that schools should focus on outcomes for pupils and whether they are receiving a good standard of education, rather than what they should be doing in order to satisfy Ofsted. Our clarification for schools document, which we have updated this week, sets out what we do and do not expect," the spokesperson added.

Related stories:

Ofsted should inspect how well schools collaborate, report says – 6 March, 2015

Ofsted announces another U-turn on no-notice inspections – 9 October, 2014

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