Job quality is worse for teachers who are expecting an Ofsted inspection, report finds

Teachers in England who are expecting an Ofsted inspection in the coming 12 months have worse job quality and a higher work intensity, according to a report.

The study from academics at Cardiff University and University College London (UCL) also showed that the conditions for teaching professionals have barely changed since the pandemic and have, in some respects, worsened. This is in contrast to many other professionals who have experienced a significant increase in the flexibility of their working hours.

Teachers in schools located in areas of high social deprivation also experienced worse working conditions, the findings show.

The report is based on data from 6,841 teachers and teaching assistants who took part in an online job quality quiz ( carried out either side of the pandemic, and a specially commissioned survey of National Education Union (NEU) members carried out earlier this year and comprising  15,584 responses.

Lead author Professor Alan Felstead, based at the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research and Data (WISERD), at Cardiff University, said: “Teaching is both a rewarding and demanding job, but the findings of this report suggest that it is becoming even more demanding. Without change, it will be difficult to tackle the acute recruitment and retention crisis facing the sector.

“The school inspection regime needs to be reformed in order to reduce pressures and workload on teaching staff. Currently, the fear of school inspections appears to worsen many features of job quality as schools prepare for the arrival of the inspection team. This is associated with a deterioration in the wellbeing of school staff.”

Co-author Katy Huxley, also based at WISERD, added: “More attention needs to be given to reducing the intensity of each working hour for teachers, as well as the total amount of time spent working. Labour shortages need to be addressed by improving the working conditions of those who work in schools. This includes, but goes beyond, pay. Features of work such as discretion, employee involvement, career development, promotion and flexible working should also be taken into account.”

Commenting on the findings, Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: “This study will come as no surprise to teachers. Teaching is already exhausting work and the run up to Ofsted makes work significantly harder and more exhausting.

“The Government cannot go on with a broken system. That is why the NEU is calling for Ofsted to be replaced with a new system that is supportive, effective and fair.

“This study also helps explain why teaching has become so much less attractive to new graduates because other professions have had the flexibility to work at home for part of their week which is not an option for teachers.”

Working in Schools: Job quality of educational professionals before and after the pandemic, is available to view here.

This news item was originally published on the Cardiff University website. 

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