Headteachers say inspectors are ignoring or dismissing the harsh realities of Covid in schools
After more than two decades at inner-city secondary schools, Helen Roberts*, a headteacher, resigned from the job she loves earlier this month. It was not the intense pressure of the pandemic that tipped her over the edge – though that has been tough – but an Ofsted inspection.
“Our inspector was intimidating, raising his voice and making accusations. There was not one apology each time I proved his accusation unfounded. He just swiftly switched to another accusation, then another,” she says. The inspection also unnerved some students. “They felt they were being interrogated and pressured to give negative feedback.”
Roberts says her deputy went home after being given “a pounding” by the inspector – and has yet to return. Another “outstanding” teacher, who was “loved and respected by colleagues and pupils”, resigned last week, saying she never wanted to experience an Ofsted inspection again. Roberts feels the same way.
Since the pandemic, attendance at her school has been poor and there has been a 40% increase in referrals to social care. Roberts says criminal child exploitation, mental health problems, children going missing and substance misuse problems have all “exploded”. Staff absences have rocketed because of Covid and few supply teachers are available. Some staff are on long-term leave and those who are still working say they are exhausted.