Exclusive: Wilshaw – 'I was wrong to dismiss teacher stress'

14th October 2016 at 12:20
In an exclusive TES interview, Sir Michael Wilshaw says his speech about teachers 'not knowing what stress is' was his only regret during his tenure at Ofsted

Ofsted’s chief inspector has used an exclusive TES interview to reveal that he has just one regret from his five-year term leading the schools watchdog.

Sir Michael Wilshaw said the biggest mistake he made was early on during his time at the inspectorate, when he gave a speech stating that teachers “do not know what stress is”.

It sparked what was an often fractious and pugnacious relationship with the teaching profession.

The speech, just months after he had taken up the reins at Ofsted, attracted headlines such as "Teachers don’t know what stress is, says Ofsted chief" and "Teachers should roll up their sleeves and get to work".

“Knowing what I do now, I wouldn’t say that,” Sir Michael said. “That stuff about stress, although I was hugely misquoted there, I probably wouldn’t say now.”

'It was my naivety'

He put the episode down to “naivety” and being unaccustomed to the spotlight that came with being chief inspector.

“I could say what I liked as a head and it didn’t appear on the front pages of TES. You suddenly realised that you had to be guarded in what you said. And I learned that very quickly.”

He added: “I suppose if a question comes at me: have I made mistakes? Yes, I have. But the mistakes were borne out of naivety.”

But the outgoing chief inspector went on to mount a vigorous defence of his robust style.

"In terms of challenge, I don't regret anything," he said. "We have got to challenge complacency, we have got to challenge mediocrity and we have got to challenge failure where we see it.

"And if Ofsted doesn't do that that, who is going to?"

This is an edited version of an article in the 14 October edition of TES. Subscribers can read the full interview hereTo subscribe, click here. This week's TES magazine is available at all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here.

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