ATL comment on remarks by Michael Wilshaw, head of Ofsted
10 May 2012
Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said:
"Please will Ofsted concentrate on helping schools improve and stop criticising teachers and heads. It is really not helpful for Michael Wilshaw to rubbish the amount of stress teachers are under.
"The pressures on teaching staff and heads are enormous and growing due to the constant churn of government initiatives, tinkering with the curriculum, introducing new tests, and pressure to get pupils through exams to prove their school is performing well. And Ofsted is part of the problem with its continual changing of the inspections goalposts and ridiculous demands for lessons to be exciting at all times.
"Teaching is the occupation with the third highest amount of work-related stress according to Health and Safety Executive figures (2010/11).
"We know, from our own surveys, that over half of education staff are working more than 50 hours a week during term-time, plus many are preparing course work and reading up on their subjects during school holidays. Over 40 per cent of teachers tell us their workload has increased over the past two years and a third said it has increased significantly.
"With all the demands on them it is hardly surprising that 58 per cent of education staff have considered leaving the profession and 60 per cent have thought about changing jobs.
"Ofsted needs to look at more than just the labels it applies to schools if it wants to improve children's education. Schools with disadvantaged pupils need extra help and support, not brickbats. Changing the label from satisfactory to requiring improvement will have a demoralising effect on those schools which have worked so hard to move out of 'special measures' and into 'satisfactory' and may have an adverse impact on children's education.
"Already fatally damaged in the profession's eyes, Ofsted risks losing any remaining credibility it has if it continues to focus on failure."
ATL surveyed over 1,292 primary, secondary, and further education staff working in state and, independent schools, sixth form and further education colleges and academies in the UK in March 2012.
40% of education staff have been to the doctor and 25% have taken sick leave from work within the current academic year because of the pressure of their job.
73% of education staff felt that their job has a negative impact on their health and well-being
64% said their job has an adverse effect on their professional ability and confidence (64%)
62% said their job has an adverse effect on their relationships with friends and family.
The main contributing factors were their workload (84%), working long hours (69%), the pressure of inspections (47%), and the pressure of observations (40%).
43% of all staff said their workload has increased over the last two years, and for 36% it has increased significantly.
Half of all those surveyed said they usually work more than 50 hours a week.
Just over 80% of staff rated their current workload as high to extremely high, with 60% saying they have thought about changing jobs and 58% considering leaving the profession.
40% of newly qualified teachers have thought about leaving the profession and 60% have thought about changing jobs.
A third of staff find observations really stressful (34%), whilst 45% of staff said they are really helpful but they make them feel a little bit stressed. The reasons why staff find them stressful are: the worry of making a mistake or saying or doing the wrong thing (55%), pressure of someone watching them teach (54%), and the pressure of being graded (47%).
Notes to editors
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) is an independent, registered trade union and professional association, representing approximately 170,000 teachers, headteachers, lecturers and support staff in maintained and independent nurseries, schools, sixth form, tertiary and further education colleges in the United Kingdom.
ATL exists to help members, as their careers develop, through first rate research, advice, information and legal advice.
ATL is affiliated to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and Education International (EI). ATL is not affiliated to any political party and seeks to work constructively with all the main political parties.