Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw has claimed that minor disruption and inattention in class are tolerated in too many schools, acting as a barrier to learning.
Launching Ofsted’s annual report, Sir Michael warned of ‘a culture of casual acceptance of low-level disruption and poor attitudes to learning’, the BBC reports.
He claimed that ‘a poverty of expectation’ is also preventing England’s schools moving up international league tables and that children’s outcomes depend on where they live. “We’re saying very clearly in this report that poverty is not a predictor for failure, that we’ve got lots of poor children now – more than ever before – doing well in our schools,” Sir Michael said.””What we are seeing though is that the country is divided between lucky and unlucky children. We’re seeing children that happen to be born in the right postcode who are fortunate children because they go to good schools with head teachers and teachers with high expectations of them. But we’re also seeing unlucky children with the same sort of background, who are born in the wrong area, live in the wrong place, go to the wrong sort of school where there’s poor leadership, with head teachers and teachers with low expectations of what they can achieve.”
Sir Michael called on school leaders to create a calm and respectful culture in schools. But ATL’s Dr. Mary Bousted criticised his ‘combative’ approach: “The lessons from this country and from abroad are clear – treating teachers with professional respect and fostering a climate for school-led collaboration is what helps children learn,” she said. “Ofsted, however, is severely inconsistent in the quality of its inspections, which leaves it undermined and seriously out of touch. Its combative words do more harm than good.”
Ofsted now rates a record eight in 10 state schools as good or outstanding. One of the areas it praises is Tower Hamlets in east London, and its head of secondary learning and achievement, Di Warn, emphasised the importance of high aspirations: “One of the biggest things has been our focus on monitoring and tracking the progress of young people and we do that really rigorously,” she said. “I suppose what I would say to them [regions that are struggling] is to raise your aspirations and make your aspirations for your young people really clear and that poverty is no barrier to success and I think that is what London has proved more than anything.”
Is minor disruption and inattention in your classroom damaging pupils’ learning? Is Sir Michael right to call on school leaders to improve the situation?