Ofsted chief ‘spitting blood’ over attacks

Sir Michael Wilshaw has claimed that the DfE briefed two right-wing think tanks to criticise Ofsted, but Michael Gove has denied any involvement.

The spat between the two Michaels – Wilshaw and Gove – kicked off after Sir Michael found out that two right-wing think tanks, Policy Exchange and Civitas, were going to criticise Ofsted, the BBC reports.

He said he was ‘spitting blood’ and blamed Mr. Gove’s department, ‘possibly’ Mr. Gove’s special advisers, for briefing them. “It does nothing for [Michael Gove’s] drive or our drive to raise standards in schools” he said. “I was never intimidated as a head teacher and I do not intend to be intimidated as a chief inspector.”

Both think tanks confirmed that they were working on reports about Ofsted, calling for a radical overhaul of its inspection system, but denied that they had received any encouragement from the DfE.

Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt waded in to the dispute, saying: “Michael Gove needs to rule out any involvement either personally or through his special advisers in this smear campaign against Her Majesty’s chief inspector. Such antics are below the office of a secretary of state.”

Michael Gove was quick to deny any involvement in the anti-Ofsted campaign and threatened to “instantly dismiss” any of his staff who were. The DfE issued a statement in which he stated: “Sir Michael Wilshaw is a superb professional and an outstanding chief inspector. He is making the changes Ofsted needs to help raise standards further.”

Sir Michael was “very pleased” by Mr. Gove’s statement and sealed the truce by saying: “We both therefore hope and anticipate that this is the end of the matter. I am looking forward to continuing to work closely with the secretary of state to ensure school standards continue to rise.”

What do you think of the spat between the two Michaels? Was Sir Michael right to be angry?

20 thoughts on “Ofsted chief ‘spitting blood’ over attacks

  1. It’s about time ofsted went. It has ruined many excellent teachers forcing good school into academies run by bullies.

  2. It’s about time ofsted went. It has ruined many excellent teachers forcing good schools into academies run by bullies.

  3. This all smacks of a fight in the play-ground that got out of hand because bystanders egged them on.
    We are living in times of great anxiety in education. We have a very stressed and disempowered teaching profession and increasingly stressed children. These are not the conditions for getting the best out of people and the idea that there is disagreement at the highest levels does not help.
    We maybe need to put the formative development of our children more closely at the heart of education, work as professionals to listen to them, find the talents of individuals and develop them, accepting that there will be variation and that is a good thing. It is after all the ability to specialise that marks out the human species.
    I would also add that the research into reliability and validity in testing shows that summative assessment is about 80% reliable, but also that this is the same correlation with good professional judgement. Slightly begs the question as to why we test so much!?!?
    DfE and Ofsted, please take note.

  4. What a very unprofessional approach by Wilshaw and then Gove issuing threats to his staff, while Hunt tries to score political points! Wilshaw should be able to handle any critique and his latest response begs the question is his personality is suitable for such a position…there is a creeping feeling omnipotence from this guy. Our state education and society needs a major shift in approach where every individual matters and the ‘one size fits all’ thinking can be confined to the ‘sociolgical system dustbin’…just can’t see it happening with this current group of politcal clones!

  5. “our drive to raise standards in schools”

    The only drive I can see is to demoralise and pile the pressure on teachers and thus lower standards. OFSTED haven’t got a clue about daily life in schools. Most teachers know that standards today are much lower than say 10 years ago.

  6. I can fully understand why Sir Michael is “spitting blood”, it isn’t very nice when somebody tells you that you are not doing a very good job. Maybe he should try and remember this every time he issues a statement criticizing the teaching profession. Unfortunately we do not have the political clout to threaten ministers and have then issue condemnations.

  7. “I am looking forward to continuing to work closely with the secretary of state”

    So an independent inspectorate then?

  8. Usual politicing!!!
    Let teachers get on with what they are good at!! Working with challenging learners and stimulating young minds!!
    We are all fed up of “what OFSTED want this week!”
    But I dare Michael Give to try our job for a single term!!

    Its not helpful when the people at the top can’t even agree standards!!
    Either uniformly agree what is best practice or leave us to get on with the job!

  9. What a bunch of incompetents. Wilshaw’s Ofsted inspections are mendacious, looking only at data that suits their agenda, and refusing to see the whole picture; this inconsistency varies from school to school – and Wilshaw does nothing to address it. Gove is an incompetent, arrogant and ideologically partisan politician, who does not understand how education and child development works, and is only concerned with the possibility of using the arguments he engenders as a way of getting himself and his colleagues re-elected. Hunt is not much better either. All display arrant contempt for teachers, the science and craft of teaching, whilst hypocritically claiming that everything they do is for the benefit of students and to support teachers. Barf-inducing, frankly….

  10. Wilshaw is a typical bully – loves to dish it but can’t take it ……. both think tanks are on the right track – Ofsted is a failed club of worn out self-seeking ex-senior managers ……. dump the lot of them…..

  11. England is the one of the countries where a teacher’s performance is judged on a subjective 30 minutes inspection by bullies like sir Michael and they have time to call this rigorous . what a shame and a failure. Face the fact the broken down in society , uncountable single women raising boys and young men with no aspirations and the materialistic world you have created is the cause of the inadequate standards of education in this country. OFSTED is a waste of task payers money and have no value . Teachers rise up and challenge this evil.

  12. The sooner these two grey and foul people implode with infighting, the better. Neither one of them has served education well and the nation will be the better for their passing.

  13. Astute comments, both.

    Regarding Pete’s thoughts on the political clones who are playing a game of governing a country, therein, I think, lies some hope.

    By making it nearly impossible for teachers to do their jobs while maintaining a reasonable balance in their lives, the degree of discontent, evidenced by the kind of industrial action not seen for some years, is leading unprecedented numbers of teachers to contemplate leaving the profession, to seek less stressful and better paid employment. What a shame that so many people dedicated to improving our young, people of remarkable integrity, should feel forced out of a field of work in which they had opportunity to impact in a positive way thousands of lives!

    But what if we teachers decided to ignore the vast demands of bureaucratic, jiggerypokery paperwork and other “record keeping”, and apply ourselves exclusively to encouraging and inspiring our pupils? All the minutiae of tracking learning actually serve to interfere with the learning itself, by suppressing creativity and restricting the scope of subject matter to be learnt. As well as very varied experience teaching in schools, I’ve tutored many private pupils, and almost all have been able to report having been told, “You don’t need to know that,” on asking a question, for example.

    The government’s attempts to regress educational practice yet further will surely lead to a collapse in the whole system, leaving a gaping window of opportunity to introduce methods which empower pupils, empower teachers and empower parents. Without a radical change of heart of this nature, the quality of our education and of society is likely to suffer still further.

    So let’s grasp it with both hands. Let’s have pupils who love and value their education. Let’s bid farewell to a system which has bred resentment and anger for far too long. No person should be made to hate their schooling so much that they want to burn it down. It’s time to show our young people the respect they deserve as a birthright, and thereby EARN the respect we would like to receive from them.

  14. I completely agree, Peter! Teachers are hampered in doing their jobs, and doing them well, by the horrible regime, of which Ofsted is an integral part, of thatcherite micromonitoring and micromanagement. Education gets pushed aside in favour of box ticking and hoop jumping, and students are trained to see schooling as no more than the more or less successful perfomance of preestablished and meaningless tasks. Indeed, it’s time this whole cramping anti educational regime was swept away , so that teachers become free to teach, and students become free to learn….and enjoy and benefit from doing so!

  15. I would like to see Mr. Gove teach an OfSted graded lesson in a week full of other lessons and see what grade he gets out of the current system.

  16. I am so saddened by the state of education and the plight of teachers. After 18 years in the classroom I have decided to leave in the summer. Although there is a good chance that I will be another statistic on the dole I will at least have my life back and my health will improve. I no longer want to work for less than the minimum wage and still get negative feedback. Can you imagine Gove working as teachers are expected? not a chance. Bye, by education.

  17. If there was ever clear evidence of The Peter Principle happily thriving, it would be in OFSTED.

  18. @Jude

    Don’t worry too much about leaving the “profession”. I left it 35 years ago and have run my own (successful) little business ever since.

    My advice… learn as much as you can about online selling and eCommerce. It’s what I did and my business is now 100% online. (And doing very well).

  19. @Robert

    Agree… the micromanagement is however, more a consequence of a Labour government than Thatcherism.

    My teaching career began in a state school, but after 3 years I was “spotted” by a private school and recruited.

    Like my colleagues, we were largely left to “get on with it” making sure only to closely follow the preferred curriculum and see to it that the pupils were armed with the skills they needed to succeed in life.

    In 1981, the headmaster asked me to “take charge” of a group of 12-year-olds the following year who were clearly not managing in the mainstream. When I gasped at the responsibility of this, he simply said; “You’ve been trained as a Special Needs teacher, so I’m sure you’ll cope very well. All you need to is have some meetings with HoD’s in the secondary school to ask them what their minimum expectations are for pupils we are about to send up to them, and then get on with ensuring that the children achieve those expectations.

    For most of the year, the 24 children in my charge were taught outside, using games and play to convey many key concepts.

    Today (nearly 33 years later), all are successful in life. Two are millionaires, and one even became a doctor. Another is an eye specialist. I remain friends with many of them on facebook.

    I was left entirely to my own devices, and had to regularly report progress and how I was meeting (my own) objectives. We had fantastic fun as a group and though these children have all succeeded, I believe my input was only a small part of their success. The school’s ethos and philosophy of letting teachers get on with the job, is really the key here.

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