Inspectorate accused: 'unacceptable practices'

22nd April 2011 at 01:00
Teachers' workload `going through the roof' thanks to Estyn's new framework, claims NASUWT

A teaching union is launching a major offensive against schools inspectorate Estyn, condemning its new inspection framework as "not fit for purpose".

A motion to be proposed by Welsh members of the NASUWT at the union's annual conference in Glasgow this weekend accuses Estyn of "unacceptable practices" over its inspection and school self-evaluation guidance.

And TES Cymru can reveal that the union is also planning to launch an operation to hold the inspectorate to account for failing to check compliance with the national workload agreement.

The proposer of the motion is union officer Tim Cox, a South Wales secondary maths teacher. He will accuse Estyn of failing to communicate the expectations of the new framework to its inspectors, and of "dictating" how teachers should spend their PPA (planning, preparation and assessment) time, rather than ensuring schools are complying with the workload agreement.

He will also condemn the inspectorate for supporting "intrusive and unhelpful" lesson observation by untrained consultants and local authority advisers, and for promoting incidental Welsh in schools where the language is not widely spoken.

"We thought the new framework was going to be a lighter touch and more supportive, but it's actually the complete opposite," Mr Cox said. "Estyn is stepping way beyond its remit and putting teachers under relentless pressure. Their workload is going through the roof."

The NASUWT is also planning to get tough with Estyn over conditions of service and workload with a new initiative after the Easter break.

As part of Operation Ol Troed - Welsh for "footstep" - union officers will arrange follow-up visits to schools if they feel that work-life balance, PPA time and "rarely cover" have not been adequately addressed by inspectors.

Although it is not part of Estyn's remit to check compliance with the 2003 national workload agreement, the NASUWT says failure to comply is often at the root of a school's problems.

Rex Phillips, the union's Wales organiser, said: "It's time to hold Estyn to account. We will therefore follow in the footsteps of the inspectors to monitor and assess whether they have done their job properly."

An Estyn spokeswoman said it would welcome the opportunity to discuss any concerns the NASUWT may have.

Original headline: Union accuses inspectorate of `unacceptable practices'

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