30 March 2013
Last updated at 08:34 ET
Sir Michael Wilshaw was asked to be chief inspector by Michael Gove
The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has called for the resignation of Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw over claims he is demoralising teachers.
Separately the NASUWT union, meeting in Bournemouth called for changes to the schools inspection body or, if that fails, to campaign for its abolition.
Ofsted said its inspections were helping raise educational standards.
The NUT’s Liverpool conference will later debate a motion of no-confidence in Education Secretary Michael Gove.
Both teaching unions are in dispute with ministers over pay, pensions and workload. Fresh strikes are expected in the summer.
Teachers at the NUT conference also called on the union to find legal ways that would allow teachers to boycott inspections.
Delegates heard claims Ofsted was not an inspectorate but a politically-motivated “surveillance operation”.
Roy Bowser, representing the union in Barnsley, said: “Mr Wilshaw you are Big Brother.”
Mr Bowser accused Sir Michael of behaving like the education secretary’s “junior minister” who oversaw an inspection regime that was “intrusive and invasive”.
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It’s inevitable that when you challenge the system to do better, you will get some pushback”
The NUT conference voted to continue to campaign for Ofsted’s abolition.
But doubts were raised over the credibility of this call – and the proposals to find ways to boycott inspections in a way that would not be unlawful.
Simon Horne, from Haringey, said this was “grandstanding” which would create “cheap headlines, but an expensive failure”.
Earlier the general secretary of the NASUWT Chris Keates said teachers understood the need for inspection, but believed it had become too “high stakes” because a bad Ofsted rating could lead to a school being taken over or turned in to an academy.
“It’s creating a climate of fear in schools and doing nothing to raise school standards.”
Ofsted is seen as a key way of protecting and improving standards in schools, especially since many schools are becoming academies, independent from local authorities.
As its chief inspector Sir Michael has cut the categories schools are rated by, scrapping the “satisfactory” rating saying all schools that pass their inspection should be rated as “good” or “outstanding”.
He has also called for a sharper focus on teaching, saying schools should only be given the highest rating – outstanding – if they are ranked outstanding for teaching.
An Ofsted spokeswoman said: “Sir Michael has said from the outset any provision that is less than good is not acceptable.
“That’s a tough message, especially for those schools and colleges that have been coasting. It’s inevitable that when you challenge the system to do better, you will get some pushback.”
She said the inspectorate had a new regional structure which gave “support as well as challenge” for schools and promoted improvement.
It was working towards its ambition of “ensuring a good education for every child”.
A spokesman for the Department for Education said the academies programme was “turning around hundreds of underperforming schools and introducing a “world class curriculum”.
Changes to pay
Opposition to planned changes to pay and conditions for teachers are high on the agendas at the teachers’ annual conferences and the NASUWT and the NUT are set to endorse plans for further strikes on these issues, plus workloads and pensions.
The government plans to bring in performance-related pay, meaning teachers will no longer receive semi-automatic pay rises as they gain experience.
It says the change will drive up teaching standards by giving head teachers flexibility to reward the best teachers.
But Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, says the change is “unnecessary and unwanted” and “is really about keeping pay down”.
“It’s not just about performance-related pay – it’s about changing teachers’ pay structures,” she told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme.
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Most teachers like acknowledgement for their work. It will give heads autonomy”
Head teacher Dame Sally Coates
She said teacher pay was not high for a graduate profession, starting at £21,000 a year but there was a promise of how pay would rise.
Head teachers in academies already have the power to vary teachers’ pay and conditions.
Dame Sally Coates, the head of Burlington Danes Academy in west London, told Today she supported the idea of performance-related pay and was using it.
“Most teachers like acknowledgement for their work. It will give heads autonomy,” she said.
Teachers plan local strikes to begin in late June, after the exam season, and a national strike is being planned for later in the year.
They are planning to hold rallies on strike days to gather support from parents, who could face disruption if schools are closed.
Parents group Parents Aloud recently complained about the prospect of more strikes.
The NASUWT has published a survey of nearly 3,000 of its members, which found nearly all (95%) said the school inspection system operated “in the interests of politicians rather than the public or pupils”.
And 80% said they agreed the current model of school inspection “unfairly undermines public confidence in the education system”.
The survey was carried out online by the union last month.