Wilshaw: I would have refused pupil immigration checks as head

The collection of pupil nationality and country of birth data by schools is a “daft idea”, Sir Michael Wilshaw has said, indicating that he would have refused to carry out immigration checks on pupils when he was a headteacher.

The outgoing chief inspector of Ofsted gave his view on recent disclosures that Theresa May wanted teachers to carry out immigration checks and deprioritise immigrant pupils while she was home secretary, following his final speech as head of the watchdog this morning.

I think this is a daft idea

Asked by Schools Week about the leaked cabinet papers seen by the BBC, Wilshaw said his first reaction had been that “schools shouldn’t take the place of the borders agency”.

“Schools have got a job to do,” he said. “If somebody had asked me as a headteacher to check on whether somebody was an illegal immigrant, demand their passports from them, I would have said ‘I’ve got better things to do with my time thank you very much’.”

Although he would not comment on whether schools should be refusing to take part in collecting the data, Wilshaw was happy to share his views on the idea as a whole.

“I wouldn’t want anyone, least of all headteachers, to break the law. But I think this is a daft idea,” he said.

Critics of the new census collection requirements, which came into force this year, fear the data could be passed to the Home Office to be used as part of immigration controls.

The Department for Education has insisted there is an agreement in place with the Home Office to stop this information being shared – but the department has refused to release further details.

The government’s response to a freedom of information request for the document is now 13 working days overdue, and the case has been reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

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  1. Mark Watson

    High time Michael Wilshaw left Ofsted. He seems to have completely forgotten his job and gone demob happy, wading into areas he and Ofsted have no business being in. He obviously has a lot to contribute to the education debate, and if he wants to do so then he can but only after he leaves his post. Quite frankly he’s abusing his position by using it as a soap box on which to pontificate his personal viewpoint.
    Ofsted themselves state that their responsibilities are:
    1) inspecting maintained schools and academies, some independent schools, and many other educational institutions and programmes outside of higher education
    2) inspecting childcare, adoption and fostering agencies and initial teacher training
    3) publishing reports of our findings so they can be used to improve the overall quality of education and training
    4) regulating a range of early years and children’s social care services, making sure they’re suitable for children and potentially vulnerable young people
    5) reporting to policymakers on the effectiveness of these services

  2. I certainly agree with the comment above and there have been many gaffs that seem to have been made by Michael Wlshaw over the last year or so but the
    government turns a blind eye to his comments.Surely there needs to be a royal commission into the state of teacher recruitment as well as the true state of education in the UK? Only an independent report free from government interference will restore public confidence and to give back the status that teachers in this country so richly deserve.