The English education inspectorate, Ofsted, is riddled with bullying and intimidation, staff claim.
Ofsted chief, David Bell, says bullying will not be tolerated
Leaked results of a staff survey suggest one in five feel they have been bullied or harassed in the last 15 months.
According to the Times Educational Supplement (TES), questionnaires returned by more than 2,064 staff (76%) indicate that a third want to leave.
Ofsted's chief, David Bell, has said he will not tolerate bullying.
Early years problem
The TES said the survey showed two out of three staff felt unable to speak freely or share ideas.
Nearly two-thirds felt so stressed it was damaging their work.
The findings of the survey, carried out last January by consultants ISR, were worst among early years employees.
Many of these work from home, supervised by regional centres, and had previously worked for local authorities' social services departments.
Ofsted reports among other things on how well educational institutions are managed and led.
It has been through a period of expansion and change, taking on the oversight of childcare and further education in 2001.
In its departmental report to Parliament, published on Friday, Ofsted said it was committed to "reporting without fear or favour, acting with integrity and impartiality and communicating clearly and frankly".
Its top organisational target is given as "year-on-year improvements demonstrated in the annual staff survey in areas such as leadership and internal communications".
In a statement, David Bell said things had improved since an initial survey in 2002, with managers taking "rapid and specific action" to address the concerns raised.
"The results show real progress in tackling some of the key areas highlighted in that previous survey, especially leadership and communications, contact between management and staff, and clarity of
vision and direction for the organisation as a whole."
He was pleased to see that pride in being part of Ofsted had improved.
"I am not complacent though, and as you would expect in any organisation which has faced major change, there are a range of issues and areas that we will be looking to address over the coming year.
"This includes continuing to tackle the bullying and harassment reported by too many of our staff. Bullying will not be tolerated within our organisation."
'Honest and open'
Staff now had opportunities to raise concerns confidentially, he said.
"One of our key aims in conducting an anonymous staff survey is to provoke an honest and open assessment of what we need to do better as an organisation.
"Over the coming year we expect to achieve further progress, providing demanding but rewarding work for our staff and a top-quality service to all those with a stake in education and care."
Spending more than £200m a year of public money, Ofsted has three parts:
- Early Years Directorate - set up as a result of the Care Standards Act 2000, which transferred responsibility for the regulation and inspection of childminding and day care from local authorities to Ofsted.
- In 2003 it created a single Inspection Directorate - now called the Education Directorate - to plan all school, college, teacher and area-wide inspections.
- Strategy and Resources - responsible for the corporate services that support Ofsted's operations.