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?