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.”
Teaching can be “pure magic”, he added, and he called for the workforce to celebrate the profession and to be “great cheerleaders of it”.
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.