Ofsted judging schools negatively for teacher shortages

Ofsted inspectors are judging schools on how well they are handling teacher shortages, with two schools rated as inadequate found to have too many vacancies.

Joanna Hall, deputy director for schools at Ofsted, told the commons education committee last week that inspectors would start asking leaders about teacher shortages as part of inspections.

But Schools Week has found the watchdog is already judging schools on how well they are coping with the recruitment crisis.

Teachers have criticised the practice, saying that they are doing their all to recruit staff and that the shortage is not their fault.

The disclosure comes after a scathing public accounts committee report last week found that the government had “no plan” to deal with teacher shortages.

The Department for Education was also criticised for a lack of “leadership or urgency” and was said to “not understand or show curiosity about shortages”.

John Dexter, acting headteacher at Trinity school, in Nottingham, told Schools Week that many heads were “losing sleep” over recruitment.

“Heads are not trying to make excuses here, but is it fair to heavily criticise a department where for a number of years recruitment to that subject or position, despite best efforts, has not yielded staff?”

Twickenham academy in west London was rated as inadequate last month, including in the “effectiveness of leadership and management” category. Under that heading Ofsted noted that the school “struggled to recruit the number of permanent teachers it needs”.

The report added: “The management of temporary teachers does not place enough emphasis on maintaining the quality of teaching at a level that is at least good.”

Worle community school, in Somerset, was also rated inadequate last month. It was told that it must “urgently improve the quality of teaching and learning by ensuring that the amount of supply cover is kept to a minimum and that supply teachers have enough information, guidance and support to be able to teach effectively”.

Micon Metcalfe

In the “quality of teaching, learning and assessment” category, which was rated inadequate, Ofsted said “many pupils are frustrated by the relatively high proportion of supply cover”.

Micon Metcalfe (pictured), a school business director who also trains other education leaders, said she was “surprised” Ofsted was reporting on a school’s recruitment struggles.

If supply teachers were affecting the quality of education then it was relevant to the judgment, but she added: “How far recruitment is within the control of school leaders is another matter.”

Schools might now have to look at new ways of working, she said, including engaging with initiatives to get people into teaching and committing to training and developing student teachers.

Hall told the parliamentary committee that under Ofsted’s new framework “one of the key questions inspectors might ask headteachers is about teacher supply”.

She said this might include how many subjects had temporary cover and how that affected the schools. It would fall under Ofsted’s leadership judgment.

“In terms of how you manage your workforce and deal with those particular issues, one would hope that all leaders and governors have a clear picture of impact of what they are facing.

“Certainly in terms of good leadership and good high-quality teaching, one would expect we could see evidence of that and how those subjects are taught, even if it is not a subject specialist.”

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  1. If schools have a high staff turnover, it might indicate dissatisfaction about how staff are treated. But it is unfair to downgrade schools because they have vacancies which they have unsuccessfully tried to fill. This is more likely to adversely affect schools in areas which are already struggling – coastal, isolated rural and disadvantaged areas. Downgrading such schools could lock them in a cycle of decline making it even more difficult for them to recruit.

  2. Andy Wilkinson

    I left a full time teaching position in an English department because of a change in management after failing an inspection. New policies in marking hugely increased the workload, especially in our department. Pressure from “rigorous” monitoring took its toll on me as I failed to keep up with it. I lost my dad during it all, because real life goes on outside of school, and I got depressed with feeling like a failure, little sympathy came my way from management. Warnings and meetings came my way from the new head and I finally felt a breakdown coming. My health, both physical and mental deteriorated and I felt that the only choice I had was to walk away. I had no fight in me to see it through after two years of inspections, change and pressure. I was suffering exhaustion and burn out. Teaching became a ridiculous amount of work and stress. I was working crazy hours, holidays and lost all enjoyment of life. Now I’ve lost my career, the relationships I built with colleagues and students over ten years and I’m out on the supply circuit where secondary students see me as a nobody.
    This government has caused this to happen to me. Michael Gove with his ridiculous implementation of what he believed education to be, without research or consultation to support his ideas. Now Nicky Morgan enforcing this strange notion of academisation on us all. No politician will stand up and reverse all of this, so experienced teachers like me will not be returning to the fold. Teacher training has been reinvented and graduates rightly have been put off of what used to be a rewarding career. This government threw out all of the agreements we had on working conditions, which were there for very good reasons, and are destroying the profession to recreate it in their own image. This will all backfire eventually, it’s happening now, but the politicians will have moved on and it will be a mess for someone else to put right. Teachers are suffering mental illness along with the students in the pressure cooker of the new exam factories. We have a right to health and happiness and time to enjoy our lives and families.
    I’ve lost my career. Lots of my colleagues are talking about leaving.
    Finally, I taught four subjects this year. I did my best but subject knowledge is key. You can’t pick it all up when you are being pressurised as I have described. You don’t have time with all of the extra stuff you have to do. Add in to that performance management, record keeping, planning, marking and having a life and you’ve got a crazy situation breaking down good and capable teachers. I’d like to see anyone try to perform at their best when you experience the life I have described…

  3. I could not agree more with this comment.OFSTED is the main reason teachers are fleeing the profession and yet they are happy to put the blame somewhere else! It really is time for the public to make the teacher crisis front and centre in British politics.The band aid solution will not work and it just is going to get worse.

  4. If schools have an inadequate number of permanent staff that necessarily has an impact on the quality of teaching and learning and therefore progress.

    Whilst it certainly seems unfair to punish at risk schools and management teams for recruiting poorly, given the crisis in recruitment and retention, it does have a major impact on the bottom line. A school with high levels of supply cannot be reliably giving a good education.

  5. D Steward

    Head Teachers and Governors run schools as they want; if there are failings in recruitment, then it is often the fault of the management of that school. There are plenty of qualifying teachers who chose not to apply for the jobs advertised under the conditions imposed by the Heads.

    A lot of Head Teachers have no interest in the welfare of there staff; treated like servants, so what do you expect.

  6. David Driscoll

    This is nonsense. The Ofsted reports don’t ‘judge the schools negatively for staff shortages’, they state the facts that there are shortages, then criticise the schools’ leaders for not supporting the supply staff sufficiently. Try to get your facts right.