Primary schools hit back after ex-Ofsted head says teachers should be prepared to 'sacrifice their lives'

Ofsted's annual report was published today. Picture: David Jones/PA Wire

All 32 primary schools in Stevenage have responded with an open letter to ex-Ofsted head Sir Michael Wilshaw - Credit: PA

More than 30 primary schools in Stevenage have penned an open letter to the ex-Ofsted boss who said teachers should be prepared to sacrifice their lives, as schools prepare to reopen on Monday.

With schools preparing for a full-scale reopening for all pupils on Monday, all 32 primary schools in Stevenage have hit back at comments made by the former Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw.

Sir Michael, who served as chief inspector of schools for Ofsted from 2012 to 2016, told BBC Newsnight's viewers to compare the return of school pupils to the situation that NHS medical professionals have faced throughout the pandemic, adding that he hopes for "similar commitment" from teachers.  

In February, he said: "You have to compare this to the medical emergency over the last year and the commitment on the part of medical professionals and nurses and doctors.

“They’ve gone the extra mile at great cost to themselves at great cost to themselves and their families, their health – they have sacrificed their lives in some cases. We need a similar commitment from the teaching profession over the next academic year."

But Stevenage's primary schools have responded to Sir Michael's comments, arguing they have already shown their dedication and commitment over the past 12 months.

In their open letter, they said: "All 32 primary schools in Stevenage would like to share just how staff have been going the extra mile, pulling together and sacrificing for over a year now.

Most Read

"150 members of staff have developed COVID-19. 32 have been diagnosed with 'long COVID' or other health complications, and several were hospitalised.

"55 families of staff members have developed COVID after their staff member brought it into their household and 27 members of staff have lost a family member, with several staff losing multiple family members.

"83 members of staff are shielding at home due to underlying health conditions but still working exceptionally hard planning and delivering learning.

"All of the above indicates personal sacrifice and in addition has led to significant time off and phased returns to work. This in turn has added greatly to the workload of those still healthy in school.

"We hope that the families we serve would, like us, disagree with Sir Michael’s comments and recognise the dedication and service of all the staff members in our tremendous Stevenage schools.

"It is because of this dedication, we as the profession, had requested for all education staff to be vaccinated and we remain deeply saddened that we have not been prioritised."

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter