Pressure is mounting on Ofsted chair David Hoare to resign, with senior members of the inspectorate understood to feel “undermined” by him publicly stating that he wanted a non-teacher as the watchdog's next chief inspector.
As TES exclusively revealed last week, Mr Hoare admitted that he “did not want a teacher to run Ofsted” because he wanted someone who “would listen very closely” and “understand the issues”.
The Ofsted chairman has also been heavily criticised for describing the Isle of Wight – one of England’s most educationally low-achieving areas – as a “ghetto” that suffers from “inbreeding”.
Mr Hoare this afternoon issued an "unreserved apology" for his comments, which he "publicly extended to everyone on the Isle of Wight".
But TES understands that it is his comments about wanting a non-teacher as chief inspector that are now behind the growing pressure on the former City businessman to step down. Senior figures within Ofsted are said to be furious about what he said.
Sources close to Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector, said he and other senior staff felt “let down” by the chair.
“He [Sir Michael] and a lot of people were extremely upset to read the chair’s comments about him saying he did not want a teacher [to run Ofsted]. They thought it was very undermining of them as professionals and that it was unfair,” the source said.
“It reflects poorly on the organisation if the chairman thinks the only people who can do it were non-teachers.”
Sir Michael is understood to be privately incandescent about Mr Hoare’s comments, with sources close to the chief inspector stating he felt Mr Hoare should resign.
At the weekend, Sir Michael said Mr Hoare's view that the top job should not go to a teacher was "wrong". However, despite his private reservations, the chief inspector decided then he should back Mr Hoare publicly to keep his job.
But sources say the chairman's comments about wanting a non-teacher to be run Ofsted are likely to make the job of the next chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, much more difficult when she takes up the role in January.
One said that Mr Hoare will be “like an albatross” around Ms Spielman’s neck.
Today it emerged that Mr Hoare has agreed to visit the Isle of Wight to learn about the challenges it faces. He made pledge during a telephone call to the leader of the Isle of Wight Council, Jonathan Bacon, when he also offered a personal apology for his comments.
After the call at the weekend Mr Hoare said: “I have offered councillor Bacon a full and unreserved apology for my recent comments. I would like to publicly extend this apology to everyone on the Isle of Wight.
“I understand that some of my specific comments were offensive as well as being unfounded. For this I am truly sorry.
“I now also recognise that my comments regarding crime, drug-use and unemployment on the Island were factually inaccurate and I therefore formally retract them here.
“As I made clear in the statement I issued on Friday, my intention had been to highlight the problem of poor educational outcomes in many of our coastal communities, especially among low-income white British children.
"I was using the Isle of Wight as an example to illustrate this point because of the concerns Ofsted has raised in the past about low schools standards on the Island.
“I would like to formally acknowledge that while there is much more still to do, school standards on the Isle of Wight are rising.
"The overall performance of both secondary and primary schools has been improving steadily over the past few years and the quality of the school improvement support provided by the council was found to be effective when last inspected by Ofsted.
“I would therefore like to place on record my appreciation for the hard work of students, teachers, school leaders and educational professionals and their role in bringing about this improvement.
“Following my conversation with councillor Bacon, I now have a better understanding of the particular challenges and barriers facing island communities like the Isle of Wight, including around the recruitment and retention of professionals such as teachers.
"I am keen to assist its residents by making sure these challenges and problems are fully recognised.
“There are many positive lessons to be learnt from the past three years on the Island and huge signs of optimism for the future.
"The Isle of Wight is a wonderful part of the country, as is recognised not only by those who live there and move there to achieve a safe and rewarding quality of life for their families, but by the thousands of people who seek its benefits of tranquillity, beauty and many points of interest when holidaying there each year.”
Councillor Bacon welcomed the comments.
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