Highlights from the NAHT conference in Harrogate

HICThe  National Association of Head Teachers 2012 conference takes place at the Harrogate International Centre from Friday 4 May to Sunday 6 May 2012

The theme for this year’s conference  ‘Fighting for Change – Protecting our Futures’



Steve Iredale, Head of Athersley South Primary School, Barnsley is being installed as NAHT President for 2012-13. The 2012 programme has a new look with the Annual General Meeting taking place on Friday afternoon followed by the regional dinners around Harrogate.

The programme for Saturday will include the Opening Ceremony, seminars, speakers, debate and policy making. For the first time the annual conference dinner dance will be held on Saturday evening with the conference finishing at 1330 on Sunday. This will give delegates the opportunity to travel home or to extend their stay in Harrogate over the bank holiday Monday.

Highlights so far

School leaders to inspect the inspectors as their union announces its own audit of inspection performance

More than 2,000 school leaders have condemned proposed changes to the inspection regime for working against standards and driving talented teachers out of the profession.

At its annual conference in Harrogate today (4 May 2012), the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has officially launched School View – its attempt to capture the real picture of what happens during school inspections. The association hopes that the evidence can be used to persuade Ofsted, the official schools’ inspection body, to address the variable quality of its inspection teams and to concentrate on helping schools improve rather than simply criticising them.



Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT, said:

Schools must be accountable for their work and, where there are problems, leaders need robust external feedback to help them improve.

But the quality of Ofsted inspections is far too variable, too subjective. Pupils, parents and teachers deserve better than a roll of the dice for the result. Frequent changes of the inspection framework mean that even the inspectors themselves struggle to keep up. There are fair-minded, expert inspectors out there, but we need far more. Ofsted wants a ‘no excuses’ culture – well that applies to them too.

If we believe in the value of a constructive inspection process, we must hold Ofsted to account for consistent, objective and high quality inspections. NAHT’s School View will provide an independent audit of Ofsted performance by schools which have been inspected. It will go beyond anecdote and rumour to provide hard evidence. Where we find persistent errors, it will help us offer support to schools to seek redress.

What we fear is a culture that saps the profession of its energy and goodwill. When nearly 40 per cent of experienced head teachers say they feel discouraged by the direction Ofsted is taking and plan to leave the profession early, this is a recruitment crisis waiting to happen.

The NAHT has already polled the views of its members on key issues connected to Ofsted’s current regime and has concluded that the interests of pupils may be compromised by the drive towards an even more adversarial inspection culture.

The union claims some inspectors appear to arrive at schools with their minds already made up or with personal agendas. Too many lack experience of the sort of school they are inspecting, rendering these ‘make or break’ judgements far too precarious.

 


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