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Ofsted boss slams teacher 'scandal'
Trainee teachers are being sent into the classroom without enough support, says Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw
It is a "national scandal" that around two-fifths of teachers leave the profession within five years despite massive investment in training, Sir Michael Wilshaw has warned.
Many new recruits are quitting the classroom due to misbehaviour because they are inadequately prepared for dealing with unruly pupils, according to the Ofsted chief inspector.
In a speech to the North of England Education Conference in Nottingham, he suggested that teacher training is not up to scratch, with trainees being tutored by individuals who have little up-to-date school experience, sent into the classroom without advice on behaviour or how to dress and left to "flounder" without support from more senior staff.
Ofsted will be reviewing teacher training inspections in a bid to crack down on course providers that are not supporting new recruits, Sir Michael said.
And in what is likely to be seen as an attack on teaching unions, the Ofsted boss also used his speech to criticise those who claim to represent teachers but focus more on the profession's problems than its triumphs.
Individuals who persist in treating teachers as "perpetual victims" risk "infantilising the profession and depressing recruitment", he insisted.
Sir Michael told the conference that serious questions need to be asked about the current teacher training system.
"How many times have heads said to me that their trainees had been tutored by people with little or no up-to-date school experience or a record of outstanding teaching?
"How many times have I heard that trainees have been sent into schools without proper guidance on professional behaviour or dress?
"How many times have I heard that trainees have been inadequately prepared to deal with poor behaviour?" He told delegates: "Even worse, how many times have I heard that, once their training was complete, newly qualified teachers (NQTs) were left to flounder because they received little or no support from senior and middle leaders?
"It is a national scandal that we invest so much in teacher training and yet an estimated 40% of new entrants leave within five years."
Sir Michael later added: "I think most of them leave because of misbehaviour in schools. They find it far too challenging, far too difficult." Ofsted will be tougher on training providers as well as schools that do not support teachers that are new to the profession, he revealed.
From September, inspectors will meet NQTs during every inspection to ask them if they feel supported, especially in dealing with pupil behaviour.
Sir Michael went on to say that he believes there has never been a better time to be a teacher.
"I find it extremely frustrating when teachers are portrayed, sometimes by their own representatives, as victims who have little control or say over their own professional lives.
"We should do more to celebrate our profession and be great cheerleaders of it. We should never undersell ourselves. If we do, our best efforts to elevate the profession will be undermined. We must stop doing this.
"Far too many of those who claim to represent the profession endlessly list its problems and ignore its triumphs." He added: "Of course, teachers have their complaints. Of course, there are grievances. But there is a difference between a professional with a legitimate criticism and a serial complainer with another moan. One tends to be listened to; the other does not.
"Those who persist in treating teachers as perpetual victims risk infantilising the profession and depressing recruitment. The reality is so different."
Earlier, shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt had told the conference that he was concerned about a threat to creative subjects in the national curriculum.
He said that he hoped that changes to school performances tables which will mean that a student's best eight subjects are taken into account will address this.
"Geography fieldwork; practical lab-work; extended projects; the speaking component of English GCSE; music; art; team sports - this is some of the terrain currently being taken out of schooling, which can only impact upon young people's development as rounded, inquiring, creative individuals," Mr Hunt said.