Ofsted’s chairman “did not want a teacher” to become the watchdog’s next chief inspector because he was seeking someone who “would listen very closely” and understand “the issues”, TES can reveal.
In a candid speech, David Hoare also questioned whether the inspectorate had focused on the full breadth of its responsibilities under current chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw.
His outspoken comments follow the selection of Amanda Spielman for Ofsted’s top job. Her complete lack of teaching experience provoked considerable controversy, with the NUT teaching union describing the decision as a “sad indictment” of the government’s attitude to education.
The Commons Education Select Committee tried to block the appointment of Ms Spielman – who is currently the chair of exam regulator Ofqual – partly because she “did not appear to recognise the importance of building bridges with the professions inspected by Ofsted”.
“It is vital that the chief inspector can carry the confidence of all those working in education, children’s services and skills,” the MPs noted at the time.
But Mr Hoare, who played a key role in the recruitment process, has made it clear that he sees a lack of teaching experience as a strength.
“We have just appointed our new chief inspector and she was my choice for the job,” the Ofsted chairman said at a Teach First conference last week. “I particularly did not want a teacher.
“I want someone who will look at data and facts and understand what the issues are. I don’t want someone to remember what it was like 20 years ago, because the world has changed.”
The remark could be interpreted as a criticism of Sir Michael, whose speeches have often drawn on his decades of teaching experience.
Mr Hoare pointed to the former head as evidence that a teacher was capable of doing the chief inspector’s job. But he also seemed to suggest that Sir Michael had focused too heavily on schools.
‘Change of focus’
“We have had Michael Wilshaw, who has done a brilliant job,” Mr Hoare said. “He has been completely focused on the primary and the secondary. But we have spent less time on early years and on FE.”
Mr Hoare said that an Ofsted chief inspector with no teaching experience could be an advantage in the “long term”.
“The great thing about people who haven’t spent vast time in the classroom is they listen very closely,” the former City businessman said.
“I think, as a chairman, I’ll do a better job of not being in education only because I will listen very carefully.”
Mr Hoare, who also acts as a trustee to the country’s biggest academy chain, Academies Enterprise Trust, likened someone coming in with a lack of teaching experience to a person viewing a house for the first time.
“Sometimes, coming new to something, you see things; you go into someone’s house and you say, ‘Did you see those curtains? They’re ghastly’,” he said. “We all know when we buy a house and three months later the curtains are still there because we are used to them.”
Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL union, said Mr Hoare was going “too far”.
“While I won’t mourn the demise of the ‘do it my way because this is how I did it’ approach, that was Sir Michael Wilshaw’s. These seem quite unguarded comments from David Hoare and are rather insulting to the profession,” she said.
But Sir Mike Tomlinson, Ofsted chief inspector between 2000 and 2002, said it was not necessary to be a teacher to head the watchdog.
“You have to look at the whole remit of Ofsted,” he told TES. “The chief inspector is responsible for Ofsted’s organisation and effectiveness and those qualities are not solely held by people in the profession.”
Who is David Hoare?
David Hoare was appointed as chair of Ofsted two years ago, after Baroness Morgan was ousted from the role.
Born in 1950, Mr Hoare lived in Argentina before attending Marlborough College. He studied as a chemical engineer before joining the oil giant Esso. He worked for 10 years at consultancy firm Bain and Company, and in 1987 started his own troubleshooting consultancy, Talisman. He went on to run a range of companies, including Laura Ashley.
He has chaired the Teenage Cancer Trust since 2010. In 2014 he was drafted in to help the beleaguered academy chain Academies Enterprise Trust.
‘Disturbing’ link between Ofsted judgements and attainment
There is a “disturbing correlation” between schools with outstanding judgements from Ofsted and high attainment, the inspectorate’s chair has admitted.
David Hoare was responding to a suggestion at a Teach First conference last week that the watchdog was focusing too much on attainment rather than value added.
“There is a disturbing correlation between outstanding schools and high attainment,” the Ofsted chair replied.
His frank admission will only add to headteachers’ concerns that their schools’ Ofsted judgements are effectively based on their pupils’ ability, rather than the quality of their education. A 2014 analysis of Ofsted verdicts showed that 76 per cent of grammar schools were rated “outstanding”, compared with just 13 per cent of secondary moderns and 19 per cent of comprehensives. Just 1 per cent of grammars were judged to “require improvement” or as “inadequate”, compared with 28 per cent of secondary moderns and 30 per cent of comprehensives.
Asked to expand on the “disturbing correlation”, Mr Hoare said Ofsted had aimed to improve inspection quality by shedding more than 1,200 contracted inspectors and employing “people who we think will be better able to work with schools”.
Isle of Wight an ‘inbred, poor, white ghetto’
Ofsted chairman David Hoare has described one of England’s most educationally low-achieving areas as a poor white “ghetto” that suffers from “inbreeding”.
The former City businessman has linked low school results on the Isle of Wight to social problems that he says exist in the area.
Mr Hoare, who has a home near the island, told teachers last week that it was often a topic of conversation with his dinner party guests. “They think of it as holiday land. But it is shocking,” he said. “It’s a ghetto; there has been inbreeding.
“Seven state schools were all less than good. There is a mass of crime, drug problems, huge unemployment.”
The Ofsted chair was discussing the importance of improving education for the most disadvantaged at a Teach First conference in Leeds. He said that coastal towns were often ignored by policy-makers in terms of tackling poverty and educational underperformance. “I have a house overlooking the Isle of Wight, and often at a dinner party, someone will ask, ‘How is education?’ ” he said.
“I say, ‘Fantastic, I love doing what I am doing. We’re really going to make a difference’. But I say, ‘We’re living seven miles away from the second worst local authority when it comes to secondary education and the third worst when it comes to primary education’.
“And I say ‘Where is it? Portsmouth? No. Chichester? No. Bognor? No. We’re seven miles away, and you don’t know we have a ghetto seven miles away’. British, white, poor, living on the Isle of Wight.”
He added: “Most people go there for sailing for two weeks a year. There’s a sailing club that is one of the best in the world, where there’s champagne. But just within inches, there are people who live in a ghetto and we’ve allowed it to happen.”
The leader of the Isle of Wight Council, Councillor Jonathan Bacon, said Mr Hoare’s statements were “ill-judged” and “an insult to the proud and hardworking Isle of Wight community”.
“I am sure that [Mr Hoare] would want to take every opportunity to clarify his position in respect of his views on island residents,” he said. “The island has some significant challenges with its levels of attainment but, through its strategic partnership with Hampshire County Council, we have made good progress.”
The Isle of Wight has come in for some stern criticism from Ofsted in the past. In 2013, the inspectorate found that education outcomes for children were “too low”, with progress between key stage 1 and 2 the lowest in the country and GCSE attainment well below national average.