Commenting on Ofsted’s annual report, Dr Mary Bousted, ATL’s general secretary, said: “Ofsted is right to highlight the escalating teacher shortage, and the damage this does to educating pupils, particularly in disadvantaged areas. Sir Michael rightly emphasises that the quality of a nation’s education system rests upon the quality of its teachers. Whether Nick Gibb chooses to acknowledge it or not, teacher recruitment and retention is in crisis in England.
“We are pleased that Ofsted has warned about the difficulties of recruiting senior leaders. The lack of training, multiple accountability pressures – including from Ofsted, and challenge of running schools on a shoestring are making the role increasingly undo-able and unattractive.
“It is good to hear Ofsted acknowledges that the quality of education in England is improving and is the strongest that it has ever been. Teachers and school leaders know the improvements are due to their unremitting efforts to do their best for every child and young person, whatever their background, and despite the relentless changes to the curriculum, tests and exams, imposed by the Government, that have added to their workload over the past few years.
“But, as we know, all is not well in England’s education system. Ofsted confirms ATL’s analysis that the further education (FE) area reviews have been chaotic, and are likely to result in poor decisions which will have long-term negative effects. The Government needs to understand the FE sector better and resist the compulsion to impose constant structural change which leaves turmoil in its wake and makes it hard for staff to focus on the quality of teaching and learning provided to students.
“Schools and colleges need a period of stability, and opportunities for teachers and leaders to take part in professional development which helps them improve how they work rather than just training to deliver the next new policy. We are hopeful Justine Greening recognises this and is acting accordingly, and setting a higher bar for policy development and implementation.”