Seven things we learned from Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw at education select committee

Seven things we learned from Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw at education select committee

Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw faced his first grilling today from the new education select committee.

Here are some of the highlights of what he said…

1. Ofsted inspectors aren’t perfect, but critics aren’t doing their homework

Sir Michael said that a lot of the criticism of Ofsted comes from people working at, or who support, schools which received less than favourable inspection grades.

Sir Michael admitted his organisation sometimes got it wrong, but had a word or two for his critics…

 

2. Wilshaw thinks Ofsted and the Regional Schools Commissioners should cover the same areas

RSCs and Ofsted’s regional structure are both relatively new to the education scene, but Sir Michael suggested this morning that there could have been more joined-up thinking about their geographical representation. (Ofsted regions were created first).

 

3. The fact 1,200 inspectors have been “let go” by the watchdog doesn’t mean we should be worried about the inspections they carried out

The news that hundreds of former Ofsted inspectors have not had their contracts renewed under plans to bring inspections in-house led to a series of questions for Sir Michael.

But Sir Michael’s argument is that not all inspectors were dropped because their work was sub-par, but because Ofsted is hoping to use more trained HMIs and serving school leaders.

 

4. There is too big a focus on the legal structures of school when the government should be addressing teacher shortages

This morning Sir Michael became one of the many people calling for an end to the government’s obsession with structure. He referred specifically to academies and free schools, and said we should focus on “capacity issues”.

 

5. Teachers are not being put off by Ofsted

On teacher retention, Sir Michael spoke about his experiences to trying to enthuse young teachers, and denied allegations that pressures supposedly created by Ofsted were forcing people out of the profession.

 

6. The law preventing Oftsed from inspecting outstanding schools contributed to the Trojan Horse scandal

Ofsted has been heavily criticised over its handling of the Trojan Horse scandal, which involved extremism in schools in Birmingham.

But this morning Sir Michael defended the fact Ofsted had previous judged some of the schools involved as “outstanding”, and said it was his organisation’s lack of routine re-inspection of such institutions which had contributed to problems with identifying the issues.

 

7. Ofsted needs a legal framework for inspection of multi-academy trusts (MATs)

Earlier this year, the Department for Education gave Ofsted permission to issue letters to MATs if inspection of several of their schools led to concerns about their overall operations.

But these letters have no legal weight and can simply be rejected by the trusts involved. Wilshaw wants more.