What the teachers say

18th September 1998 at 01:00
Reports this week claim that the chief inspector of schools, Chris Woodhead, is to have his five-year contract renewed with a 40 per cent pay rise. Suggestions that this would amount to a Pounds 1m package over five years were described as "bunkum" by the Education Secretary but sparked debate in staffrooms up and down the land. The TES found out what teachers think: Stuart Holt, head, Clitheroe grammar school, Lancashire: "Chris Woodhead has been quick to criticise the profession. He's had a tendency to be very selective with data gathered by the Office for Standards in Education and then extrapolate it to apply to the performance of teachers as a whole.

"I think the teaching profession would regret his reappointment. If you look at the whole OFSTED business and see how much has been spent on it, I doubt it's been value for money. He's had his chance and it's time for a new chief inspector who will gather more respect from teachers."

Steve Harrowell, head of history, Archers Court school, Dover, Kent: "I don't object to him being reappointed, but if it's with a 40 per cent pay rise, I'd like one too. It's outrageous that he could get a rise like that.

"In my experience, OFSTED inspectors are not helpful. When we were inspected last year, we came out of it all right, but the atmosphere was negative: they tried to dig bad things out. In the past, the feeling was that the inspectors were there to help you and give constructive advice. Now they're out to get you."

Michael Metcalfe, head, Cardinal Hinsley RC high, Brent, north London: "I am in a position to judge on my experience of OFSTED and it did a fair and honest inspection of our school and gave a good report, which was encouraging for the school, the parents and the teachers.

"Chris Woodhead has obviously done some good work and shaken up the education system, although some of his comments have been detrimental to teachers - unlike Blunkett who has been helpful.

"In business, Mr Woodhead's level of pay would be scrutinised by those who appointed him or by shareholders, but in this situation, teachers and governors don't have a say in the level of remuneration he's going to get."

Linda Wafer, head of learning support, Walker school, Newcastle-upon-Tyne: "I think the teaching profession as a whole is in favour of improving standards so long as funds are made available. If the Government gave a 40 per cent pay rise to teachers as well as Chris Woodhead, there would be no problem in recruiting new staff.

"Mr Woodhead always seemed to pick on the critical side of OFSTED reports, for example when he made a statement on the quality of teaching. He said that 15 per cent of teachers were unsatisfactory, when actually the report said that 85 per cent of lessons observed were satisfactory or better, which is not the same at all.

"I think it would be a good PR job for the Government to appoint a chief inspector who is more supportive of teachers. Chris Woodhead has not endeared himself to the profession with his comments and a 40 per cent rise would really rub salt into the wound."

Angela Johnson, teacher, Victoria County infant school, Chester: "Chris Woodhead has come out with some weird and wonderful statements. For example, he said that there is no evidence that smaller class sizes would be beneficial, without actually seeing for himself what it's like to teach a class of more than 30 kids.

"He needs to show he's ready to get his hands dirty and find out what is really happening in the classroom and be aware of the pressures involved. Then he'd get more respect. Everybody seems to be getting at us and the profession needs some more support."

Leader, page 14

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