Ofsted slams ‘untenable tension’ in wake of school strikes


A school in which disgruntled staff staged a series of strikes has been put in special measures after Ofsted claimed that “untenable tension” within the school community was adversely impacting pupils’ education.

Last year staff at Hasland Hall Community School, in Chesterfield, held three strikes to protest against unruly pupils and excessive workloads.

And while the NASUWT-organised strike action was suspended in November, an Ofsted inspection the previous month found “untenable tension across the school which is having an adverse effect on the quality of education, behaviour and school improvement”.

The inspector advised the school is ‘inadequate’ because it is “failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education”.

The report also states the quality of education provided is “not good enough” and senior leaders have “not ensured that curriculum plans are aspirational”.

Almost one-third of parents said their children were not safe in school and pupils are not confident staff can deal with bullying concerns – while some staff said “they did not feel safe themselves”.

This poor behaviour is said to be “affecting pupils learning and achievement” and the inspector said leaders must work to establish “an ethos of respect and understanding”.

It’s not the first time Ofsted has taken aim at unions. An Ofsted study published earlier this year claimed the “antagonistic voice” of unions stalled improvements in “stuck schools”, with some headteachers bemoaning “strong union representation resisting action to improve the culture of the school”.

In a letter to parents, acting headteacher Steve Edmonds said the school was “deeply disappointed” with the judgment but recognised “the schools must change and improve”.

He said since the inspection an action plan has been developed to address changes in behaviour management and an audit of safeguarding procedures has been launched.

On top of this, “anti-bullying policy and procedures have been amended in order to make the reporting process more robust”.

He asked that parents give “full support to the school during a time of uncertainty and public challenge” and that they don’t take to social media to air grievances with the school.

He added: “On a daily basis the staff, senior leaders and governor continue to do their very best for your children.”

The NASUWT did not respond to a request for comment.

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  1. Mark Watson

    If this was an academy school in such dire circumstances, SchoolsWeek would have plastered the relevant academy trust’s name all over this article, questioning its competence and whether it was fit for purpose.

    This is a community school, run by a local authority. Not once in the article does SchoolsWeek even refer to the council that is responsible for this school, let along question what it’s involvement has been (or hasn’t been).

  2. Mark Roberts

    Teachers are entitled to union representation, good working conditions and reasonable workload, just like any other public sector workers. It’s disgusting they everyone just expects teachers to say yes to everything. The contract says 37.5 hours but you’re working 60? Who cares, you must do EVERYTHING we say! Overtime pay? You’re joking, right? Working during half term holidays even though your contract says it’s an unpaid period? Just be happy you have “SO MANY” holidays! You are qualified to teach hisotry but we’re giving you 4 religious studies classes to teach and mark? Who cares! Teachers should go on strike across the country, maybe they would shake the broken system down. Nowhere in the world is there such a shortage of teachers and so many dropping out of the profession. Nowhere in the world do they have teachers doing more work than students, taking full responsibility for their results, including pay-related targets. Nowhere in the world do they have an institution so broken, so damaging, so malicious as Ofsted. Strike!