Commenting on today’s speech at Brighton College by Sir Michael Wilshaw, the Chief Inspector of Schools, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“Yet again Michael Wilshaw is choosing to attack and undermine schools rather than work together with them as partners in school improvement. Teachers coping with the minority of pupils who display persistent unruly behaviour need the support of their colleagues and leadership teams, not thinly veiled threats from a punitive inspection system.
“Teachers are only too well aware of the massive problems that many of their students will face as youth unemployment and child poverty levels continue to soar. However, policy by personal anecdote and put-downs does not appear to be the best way to interfere in the education service.
“It is beyond belief that the Chief Inspector feels that he can simply change many schools currently deemed ‘satisfactory’ to ‘requiring improvement’. Plunging yet more schools into this arbitrary category will certainly suit the Government’s forced academy agenda but will do nothing for the morale or education of pupils, teachers and parents currently at those schools.
“It is quite obvious that mobile phones should not be used during lesson times. It is this sort of low level disruption that teachers and pupils find the most difficult to deal with. However, what we cannot do is put the genie back in the bottle. Mobile phones are a part of everyday life and they are not going away. Parents, carers and pupils also rely on mobile phones to contact each other if there are any problems going to and from school.
“What is important is for pupils to be given the opportunity to demonstrate they can act responsibly. Schools need clear policies about the acceptable use of mobiles on the premises and to have clear and consistently applied sanctions if they are misused.”