Ofsted's chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw has said the watchdog's chairman David Hoare was wrong to refer to the Isle of Wight as an inbred ghetto, but should not have to resign.
Sir Michael was reacting to Mr Hoare's controversial comments, revealed by TES, this weekend and admitted that his chairman had gone “over the top” when he said the island suffered from “inbreeding”. But he had apologised and should therefore keep his job.
“My view is that he should stay in his job," he told BBC radio. "He has apologised, he's been big enough to understand that he went over the top, that he didn't use appropriate language and he has apologised profusely.
"He's been a good support to Ofsted. He is passionate about school improvement. My view is that he should remain."
Sir Michael said Mr Hoare was right to make reference to under-achievement in rural and coastal areas like the Isle of Wight, where until recently school standards had been "terribly, pitifully low".
TES exclusively reported on Friday that, speaking at aTeach First conference in Leeds, former city banker David Hoare had said of the Isle of Wight: "It is shocking. 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."
Following the reports, Green Party education spokeswoman Vix Lowthion called for Mr Hoare to resign, with local politicians calling the comments offensive.
Sir Michael also took issue with Mr Hoare's view on the best choice for the next chief inspector, saying he had been "wrong" to favour non teachers.
Sir Michael said that teaching experience was not a "prerequisite" for his job, but disagreed with Mr Hoare's suggestion that the post should not go to a teacher. "You can't rule out that," he said. "He was wrong in ruling out that, but he obviously made a judgment on that one and has said so."
But Sir Michael defended the choice of non-teacher Amanda Spielman as his successor, in spite of her nomination being opposed by the House of Commons Education Committee, which said she lacked the "vision and passion" needed for the job.
He said he believed Ms Spielman, chair of the exams watchdog Ofqual, would do a good job as chief inspector.
"I know Amanda because before I went to Ofsted I was director of education at Ark, which is one of the most successful academy chains in the country," he said. "Amanda was a key person in setting that organisation up. She knows about schools, she knows what makes for a good school, although she's not been a teacher or a headteacher herself. I'm sure she'll do a good job."