Sir Michael Wilshaw, the head of UK education body Oftsed, has doubled down in the face of criticism from teacher and head teacher unions. Sir Michael has slammed whining heads and teachers and said that they don’t know what the true meaning of stress really is, noting that the problems of the malcontents dwarfed in comparison to those faced by more than one million young people who had been failed by the school education experience and were now left jobless and hopeless.
He said that failure to improve the education system risked a return to the days in which heads were not prepared to tackle poor teaching.
“We need to learn from this and challenge those who have power invested in them to make the difference, but too often make excuses for poor performance – it’s just too hard, the children are too difficult, the families are too unsupportive, this job is far too stressful,” Sir Michael said.
Sir Michael further commented that head teachers should be grateful for their privileged position and recognize that they have more power, freedom and financial compensation than ever before and that the country had no need for leaders whose first recourse during problems was to blame someone else.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the latest salvo in the ongoing, increasingly acrimonious, war between Sir Michael and the union reps did little to ease tensions.
Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “Already fatally damaged in the profession’s eyes, Ofsted risks losing any remaining credibility it has if it continues to focus on failure.”
Christine Blower, Bousted’s opposite number at the National Union of Teachers, concurred:
“Yet again Michael Wilshaw is choosing to attack and undermine schools. Teachers coping with the minority of pupils who display persistent unruly behaviour need the support of their colleagues and leadership teams, not thinly veiled threats from a punitive inspection system.”
The National Association of Head Teachers recently held their annual conference at which they threatened to hold a ‘vote of no confidence’ in Sir Michael and call for his sacking.
Sir Michael hasn’t been afraid to take a confrontational stance with the unions since first being appointed January this year. Almost immediately he said that a quarter of head teachers in the UK were underperforming and shouldn’t be allowed to continue getting away with shoddy work justified with tired excuses of poverty and deprivation when exam grades were called into question.
Critics of Sir Michael who think his concern for children is a cover for attacking unions should note that upon appointment he also derided poor parents that considered the school as a pseudo-babysitter rather than an educational establishment and the taint of celebrity culture which had eroded old fashioned values such as honesty and hard work.