New teachers report bullying and mock inspections by Academy and state school heads

Academies and state schools are operating under a culture of bullying, secret performance assessments and mock Ofsted inspections, a survey of new teachers has found. This is from the Telegraph…

Graduates in their first year of teaching raised concerns about “humiliating” sackings, “unethical” sickness policies and heads who “rule through fear”.

Many also made serious allegations about how their schools were being run, with some claiming teachers were made to cheat on GCSE assessments and others reporting “extreme bending of the rules” during exams and controlled assessments.

The answers were responses to a survey of 477 participants in the “Teach First” scheme, which places high-achieving graduates from top universities in classrooms in some of the country’s poorest areas.

It was commissioned by the independent Academies Commission to inform a recently published report on the academies programme, and the results were reported in the Times Educational Supplement.

Academies are given more freedom over budget, timetabling and curriculum than other state schools.

But 54 per cent of respondents from academies admitted to having “personal reservations” about practices at their workplace, compared with 46 per cent from other state schools.

When asked to explain their answers, many of the teachers highlighted the conduct of head teachers as a problem, with “intimidation”, “bullying” of staff and “dictatorial” leadership among the complaints.

In contrast, 37 per cent of all respondents said they had no reservations.

Academy teachers also illustrated their complaints with the most extreme examples of worrying practices, including mock Ofsted inspections which led to sackings.

Across all schools a quarter of all teachers’ reservations related to practices linked to pressure to boost schools’ league table position.

Nine respondents made allegations about incidents in exams or controlled assessments, from “bending the rules” to “cheating”.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL teaching union, expressed concerns about the “gravity” of the allegations, but Brian Lightman of the Association of School and College Leaders said it would be “unwise to draw sweeping conclusions” from such inexperienced teachers.

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