He astonished two separate audiences last week when he told them to challenge inspection teams and throw away unsatisfactory reports.
"If you don't agree with the inspectors, put the report in the bin - I would," he told a conference of the Independent Schools Association in York.
This was not an unguarded remark. "If you don't understand the key issues put the report in the bin," he told an invited audience of 150 primary heads, just one day later.
Inspectors are frequently to blame for "convoluted language" and for "taking refuge occasionally in banality" he explained to the heads in Leeds.
In a wide-ranging speech, he went on to attack the Government's regime of target-setting, a key policy for raising standards.
"I do not accept the naive belief that schools can improve year on year. The Government has got to take that professional truth on board with regard to its targets."
His apparent change of heart produced surprised reactions from the conference organisers.
Alan Padden, headteacher of a primary school in Leeds, said the notion of throwing reports away was "ridiculous".
He said: "It's their job to give us a clear and understandable report first time."
Averil Burgess, who chairs the service that will inspect independent schools on behalf of the Office for Standards in Education, said: "Any report, whether you agree with it or not, is of value."