Get involved in children's lives, urges Sir Michael

4th November 2011 at 00:00
But unions say the new chief inspector wants teachers to do two jobs

He is still to be confirmed as Ofsted's next chief inspector. But Sir Michael Wilshaw is stoking unions' anger by calling on teachers to become "more involved" in pupils' lives beyond school.

The ATL said the head of east London's high-performing Mossbourne Academy - appearing before MPs in a pre-appointment hearing for the Ofsted post this week - was effectively asking teachers to do two jobs.

But Sir Michael said that if achievement was to improve in disadvantaged areas with growing "levels of dysfunctionality", then such tactics were essential. "Schools and teachers and headteachers have got to become much more involved in the lives of children beyond the end of the school day and take a greater interest in what happens outside the school," he said.

That might mean extending the school day, addressing the community that exists outside the school, and knowing that "the children are not going to go home and do their homework".

ATL general secretary Mary Bousted said he was right to say that disadvantaged pupils needed extra help but said that schools did not have the resources to extend the school day.

"This was actually the job of the extended schools project and Every Child Matters agenda," she said. "Teachers are already working very long days and shouldn't be expected to do two jobs. Adding another layer of responsibility and extra duties will mean they don't do either job well."

The comments are the latest in a series of forthright statements from Sir Michael in the few short weeks since he acknowledged he was odds-on favourite to become the next chief inspector. He has already called on "mediocre" heads to do more to tackle incapable and "coasting" teachers.

During his Commons education select committee hearing, Sir Michael denied that he had ever been known as a "sergeant major". But he acknowledged that TES had revealed his Clint Eastwood approach to school improvement, and that he had been referred to as "Dirty Harry".

Sir Michael said his aim was to raise standards among the disadvantaged, which would also lead to greater pressure on coasting schools to improve.

He admitted to MPs that he lacked experience in Ofsted's social care and child care remit. But Sir Michael said he was a "fast learner" and that he would rely on the expertise of other senior staff at the inspectorate.

The head shared the MPs' concerns that there needed to be proper checks to ensure that outstanding schools - to be freed from routine Ofsted inspections - were not allowed to decline.

But Sir Michael said the main role of inspection should be to measure and judge school performance and not to improve it.

"Once Ofsted gets involved in the school-improvement process then it inspects itself and that would be silly," he told the MPs.

Sir Michael, who is now 65, pointed to the 69-year-old Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. When an MP noted that James Callaghan became prime minister in his mid-sixties, Sir Michael responded: "So did Churchill."


Sir Michael Wilshaw also showed teachers his softer side this week when he said they should be given sabbaticals to avoid "burn-out".

"People need to be refreshed," he told MPs. "This always comes down to money at the end of the day. Can it be afforded? I think it has to be."

Responding to another frequent teacher complaint - the quality of Ofsted inspectors - he said the route that had seen successful heads progress to become Her Majesty's Inspectors (HMIs) was becoming "less and less common now because of salary differentials".

Asked whether the #163;180,000 salary he would get as head of Ofsted was "appropriate", he said the level was necessary to "attract the best people".

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