ATEAM of troubleshooters could be set up in the North East to spot problems with failing schools and dismiss incompetent headteachers, a new education chief has suggested.
Sir Michael Wilshaw, the incoming head at Government watchdog Ofsted, said the job of identifying failing schools should not fall on his shoulders alone, especially as more schools become independent academies.
He believes local education commissioners could spot problems at a school, saying it is often too late by the time that Ofsted fails a school.
His comments were last night given a cautious reaction in the North East.
David Pearmain, the head of Kenton School in Newcastle and chairman of Schools North East, said he hoped any changes introduced by Ofsted in 2012 would be lasting.
He said: “Near the top of most headteachers’ to-do list will be getting their heads around the new Ofsted framework that comes into effect in January.
“The new framework, the third in just four years, again changes the criteria by which schools are judged. Let’s just hope this one stays for a while.
“School leaders recognise the need for strong accountability and quality standards for schools but just wish that the measures and process would not constantly change.
“A system that lacks consistency so that no one, especially parents, is sure of what the judgements mean year on year lacks credibility and wastes time and money in the process.”
Mr Pearmain said that schools that are deemed to be failing should be given support by others in their community, rather than being taken over or shut down.
“The new year will herald many new conversions and chains of academies and school-led multi academy trusts will become more of a feature of the North East educational landscape,” he said.
“The Government has made clear that a major priority in the coming year will be tackling under-performing primary schools. This will include the takeover of schools that are viewed to have consistently failed to improve.
“Whilst no child’s education should suffer because of poor teaching or bad management at a school, I hope the Government thinks through the implications of these actions and ensures that these schools are able to work in collaboration with other schools in the community to draw on support and expertise and that proper consideration is given to the local context in which the school operates.”
Sir Michael has also said that “scruffy teachers” could be in the firing line, saying school inspection reports should comment on the professional dress and behaviour of staff.
He added: “If we turned up at the doctor’s surgery or the lawyer’s offices or a surgeon’s consultation we would expect them to look professional, it’s the same with teachers.”
A regional spokesman for the National Union of Teachers said: “Whilst we would expect all of our members to conduct themselves professionally and to be suitably attired in the classroom, I do hope that Ofsted use a common sense approach when it comes to a dress code.
“A suit and tie might be appropriate for some teachers, but it’s not always practical for other subjects, like science or art.
“Teachers should be judged on their ability to teach, not whether they’ve polished their shoes.”
School leaders wish that the measures and process would not constantly change