A study by the Association of School and College Leaders claims that 37% of the UK’s head teachers were planning to resign as a result of education reform within the country with an additional 54% still considering their position.
This is the latest escalation in an ongoing row between teaching unions and the Government in recent years. Unions have already taken strike action over reforms to pensions with more industrial action expected on Wednesday 28th March. In some areas teachers have threatened to walk out in protest against the government’s expansion of academies/free schools. These are independent schools, on a similar model to US charter schools, that are run free of local authority interference and regulations.
The ASCL claims that head teacher frustration over rising workloads, funding cuts and constant Government attacks on the current standards in state education has reached the point where they are unwilling to go on being undermined and underappreciated. The government claims that it cannot ignore falling standards and must act to rectify slipping down international performance table or be left behind the rest of the world.
Particularly unpopular are the changes to Ofsted inspections, which seek to encourage schools to improve by relabeling ‘satisfactory’ status as ‘requiring improvement, reviewing outstanding status to check that standards haven’t slipped and doing inspections during unannounced visits to see schools how they actually run instead of how they look during days they’ve prepared specifically for.
Brian Lightman, ASCL general secretary, said head teachers felt “angry and deeply frustrated, on the verge of being bullied”.
Speaking before the union’s annual conference in Birmingham on Friday, he said: “The bottom line is that the Government needs school and college leaders on its side if it wants its policies to work and standards to continue to improve.
Educational reforms such as the free schools project are popular enough for the new schools to have enormous waiting lists and far more applications than place. The free schools project is allowing Kent Council to build a new grammar school for the first time in 50 years. The attainment standards of students in state education are undeniably slipping. Considering all this, the wording from Lightman sounds a lot like a threat and makes one wonder who is the bullied and who the bully in this stand-off.