The further education sector has hit back at former Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw, after he told a public debate colleges should “get off their backsides and work harder”.
Speaking in House of Commons yesterday, chair of the education select committee Robert Halfon called it a “disgraceful attack”. He said: “This is entirely wrong when 70 per cent of our further education colleges are good or outstanding,” he said.
He added while Mr Wilshaw had previously called FE the “Cinderella sector” it was worth remembering that “Cinderella not only married a prince, but we have got to banish the two ugly sisters of snobbery and intolerance”.
The former chief inspector's comments also caused a backlash on Twitter, with many college staff and management airing their anger.
Association of Colleges chief executive David Hughes tweeted it was always nice to hear and “evidenced, reasoned and calm point of view”. He added: “Shame we never got one from Mr Wilshaw and looks like that won't change.”
He later sent another tweet, saying it was good to see Mr Halfon had a “more considered view of colleges […] compared to ex-Ofsted chief inspector’s scurrilous and ignorant prejudice.”
David Russell, chief executive of the Education and Training Foundation, remarked he wished “Wilshaw would get off the fence and say what he really thinks”.
Speaking at this week’s Institute of Education public debate on the academic-vocational divide, Sir Michael said colleges should “get off their backsides and work harder” to improve GCSE resit results, rather than complaining about the controversial policy.
He added many colleges, he told the audience, were “more interested in the completion of courses than their relevance to local or national employment needs.
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