Sir Michael Wilshaw: Sorry if I’ve caused offence

Wilshaw JFS

Outspoken Sir Michael Wilshaw is set to issue a mea culpa later today in a keynote speech at the Festival of Education – stating “if I have stirred up emotions … and caused offence by speaking bluntly, then I apologise”.

The Ofsted chief inspector has irked certain sectors of the education community with his increasingly frequent outspoken views.

Some of his more controversial remarks include that leaders know they are doing something right if their staff are unhappy and how being a headteacher is “easier now” than ever before.

He has also ruffled the feathers of some of the sector’s most prominent leaders, including most recently Sir David Carter and his team of regional school commissioners.

But, in a speech at the Festival of Education at Wellington College later today, the soon-to-depart Wilshaw is due to extend an olive branch to those he has offended.

He will say: “I hope that when my term of office ends in a few months’ time people will understand that what I have said and done has been motivated by a passionate desire to improve the lives of children and young people.

If I have stirred up emotions from time to time … then I apologise

“If I have stirred up emotions from time to time and caused offence by speaking bluntly, then I apologise. But I have been a chief inspector in a hurry, impatient to bring about improvement through inspection.”

He will say that although there is “much to do, more children are in good and outstanding schools than ever before”.

“I hope that this is recognised by those who have, from time to time, questioned my approach.”

However he will add: “Nevertheless, since this is the papal year of mercy, I forgive them.”

Ofqual chair and academy chain advisor Amanda Spielman (pictured below) is set to take over from Wilshaw, who will officially leave office at the end of this year.

He will use today’s speech to highlight issues he has previously talked about prominently, including a “continuing failure to improve the lives of our poorest children”. Amanda-Spielman-1

He said there are “five main culprits” for this: the political ideologues of the Left and Right; those who argue children do not need structure in school (who he labels “structural vandals”); a constricting curriculum for youngsters who favour apprenticeships; poor teaching; and poor leadership.

Wilshaw is now calling for the government to get tough on “feckless parents who allow their children to break rules” – including for schools to issue letters and sanctions to remind parents “how they bring up their children has profound implications for all of us”.

He also urged the government to insist that every “major multi-academy trust” should have a university technical college (UTC).

He has previously stated his own personal preferences for trusts to also include UTCs, but this appears to go a step further.

But he will add: “Every multi-academy trust should be inspected to ensure that the UTC does not become a dumping ground for the difficult or disaffected and that it delivers high quality pre-apprenticeship programmes to the age of 19.”

In response a Department for Education spokesperson said the government were already “strengthening” the UTC programme through a number of reforms “including partnerships with successful secondary schools and multi-academy trusts.”

Wilshaw is set to  finish his speech stating: “As I begin my last few months as chief inspector, it saddens me immeasurably to say frankly that we are still letting down our poorest children and that if things do not change fundamentally, we will continue to do so.”


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