Crawley teacher speaks out against Ofsted '˜culture of fear'

A teacher has spoken out against the 'culture of fear' he feels has been created by Ofsted.

Wednesday, 6th April 2016, 10:57 am
Updated Wednesday, 6th April 2016, 11:01 am
National Union of Teachers
National Union of Teachers

Alex Ramiz, who teaches English at Thomas Bennett Community College, in Tilgate, said he had seen a lot of “excellent young teachers” leave the profession because of the pressures placed on them and their schools by the inspection system.

At the annual conference of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), in Brighton, Mr Ramiz moved a motion calling for the union’s leadership to work with the Labour Party to create a better alternative. The call was seconded by fellow West Sussex teacher Mark Slatter.

Mr Ramiz said: “I felt this motion was important because I do not think that the present system of accountability works. I think we need teachers and students to feel enthusiastic about the challenges of learning and we need them to feel empowered.

“Education should be fun and invigorating; people should not feel afraid of teaching, and going to school should not feel like going to work in a factory.”

In September, an overhaul of Ofsted’s inspection framework led to a system the government called a “better inspection for all” but many teachers felt was too tough.

Mr Ramiz said: “As a teacher who has been part of an officially outstanding English department for the last six years, through two Ofsted inspections, and in which time our GCSE results for English have been phenomenal, I can tell you that Ofsted has done nothing but create a culture of fear.”

He stressed neither he nor the NUT wanted to simply scrap Ofsted and leave schools unaccountable, but to come up with a system which was “built on collaboration and support” in which professionalism was “encouraged and respected”.

He added: “I have known excellent young teachers leave the profession because of these pressures. We need a system that would have kept them in the classroom for the next 40 years.

“From my point of view, Ofsted has not made things better; it has made things worse, yet teachers would thrive on the challenges offered by a proper system that encouraged professionalism.

“At conference, I heard a number of teachers crying because of what the present system had done to them and their students.”

His feelings were echoed by NUT general secretary Christine Blower, who said: “Ofsted is one of the causes of unsustainable levels of pressure and workload for teachers, heads and pupils.

“Teachers need to have confidence in the inspectorate, the reliability of its judgements, and its capacity to support schools and promote improvement.

“Instead, Ofsted is having a negative impact on children’s education, disrupting important planned activities, and causing additional stress and pressure.

“It is not fit for purpose. What is needed is a new model of school accountability, one that involves school self-evaluation and is designed in discussion with the profession.”

With the government missing its teacher trainee recruitment targets for the past four years and 18,000 people leaving the country to teach abroad, the loss of any teachers should ring alarm bells in the corridors of power.

But Mr Ramiz did not think the NUT’s concerns would be heeded.

He added: “I need my students to care about what we are learning, and to have ownership of it. It is a shame that the government cannot follow those same basic principles.

“If the profession is against you in such numbers, it should get you thinking.”

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