Ofsted inspectors are paid bonuses, the inspectorate has confirmed – but stressed these are not reliant on particular inspection judgements.
The watchdog says they could be paid for "leading exceptionally challenging and pressured inspections" and other exceptional performance.
Concerns over the extra payments for inspectors erupted after the inspectorate published its gender pay gap report – which revealed that men working for Ofsted are more likely to get bonuses than women and that men's bonuses are 21 per cent higher on average.
But the existence of any bonuses at all shocked some teachers, who were concerned about the appropriateness of such rewards in a system that can result in punitive measures against schools and school staff.
The thing that shocked me most was that Ofsted inspectors get bonuses... whilst the people actually doing the teaching got a pay freeze followed by a sub-inflation pay cap.— Miss Fairhurst (@MissFairhurst) February 28, 2018
Ofsted staff getting bonuses seems to have gone down like a lead balloon with teachers, and rightly so.— Pete Wharmby #FBPE (@commaficionado) March 1, 2018
Sean Harford, Ofsted's director of education, tried to calm things on Twitter by explaining the bonus system was earned through exceptional pieces of work or exceptional performance over time. But when asked for examples of "exceptional performance", it was Ofsted's regional director for London, Michael Sheridan, who replied.
Mr Sheridan tweeted: "Usually for going above and beyond; leading exceptionally challenging and pressured inspections; receiving consistently positive feedback; completing additional work; demonstrating a willingness to be flexible when we need to respond quickly. Being great at their job!"
Not all challenging inspections are those where job losses may be an outcome through the actions of others. Some of the most challenging are when schools ‘push for outstanding’.— Sean Harford (@HarfordSean) March 1, 2018
In a statement, Ofsted explained: “All staff are eligible for reward based on their performance and contribution to Ofsted’s strategic aims; to be a force for improvement through intelligent, responsible and focused inspection and regulation. Senior managers determine who should receive awards on these grounds.
“In common with most other government departments and private employers, Ofsted recognises staff, including inspectors, who go above and beyond their role and perform to the highest standards. This might include leading challenging inspections or receiving consistently positive feedback. No element of our reward system is linked to volumes of different types of inspection judgement.”