Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

How David Hoare Was Forced to Step Down as Ofsted Chair

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

How David Hoare Was Forced to Step Down as Ofsted Chair

Article excerpt

Justine Greening demanded his resignation earlier this week - but the inspectorate's woes aren't over yet

An air of tension left Ofsted's HQ this week, as the watchdog's chairman, David Hoare, finally resigned.

For the most of the last month, pressure had been building over his comments revealed by TES, describing the Isle of Wight as a poor, white "ghetto" that suffered from "inbreeding".

Mr Hoare had been trying to draw attention to the work that was needed to improve education standards in a relatively low performing area of the country.

But the language he used at a Teach First conference, replete with references to his own dinner parties and champagne, did not help Ofsted's case. The condemnation he received when his remarks were revealed was instant and universal.

Twitter users described Mr Hoare's "sweeping generalisation" as "an outrage", saying that he had made a "hideous comment" that could not have "come across any more elitist and condescending".

And the anger, it later emerged, extended to senior figures within Ofsted itself.

But in the immediate aftermath, Mr Hoare clung on to the £46,000-a-year role.

He quickly apologised for "any upset or offence" he had caused and agreed to pay a visit to the Isle of Wight to "learn about the challenges" it faces.

It looked as though Mr Hoare had done enough to retain his position, leaving a growing sense of outrage among his Ofsted colleagues. But then, on Monday, Justine Greening suddenly released the pressure. Upon returning from holiday, the new education secretary called Mr Hoare in for a meeting and demanded that he quit.

'Senior staff were appalled'

TES understands that the move has been strongly welcomed by Ofsted's leaders, not least the current chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, who privately felt that Mr Hoare should have stepped down in the immediate aftermath of his comments.

A source close to the chief inspector said: "Sir Michael was incandescent about the remarks and senior staff were appalled. There is certainly relief among them now that he has done the decent thing and stepped down."

Senior figures within the inspectorate are believed to have been particularly "unhappy" about his comments that he "did not want a teacher" to become the next chief inspector.

Mr Hoare said he wanted someone from outside the profession, because he wanted a chief inspector who "would listen very closely" and "understand the issues".

His resignation comes at a critical time for the inspectorate. Sir Michael Wilshaw is entering his final few months as chief inspector; his replacement, Amanda Spielman, currently chair of exam regulator Ofqual, has faced question marks over her suitability for the role.

In July, the Commons Education Select Committee tried to block her appointment, citing concerns that she "did not appear to recognise the importance of building bridges with the professions inspected by Ofsted".

Making a hard job harder

One source suggested that Mr Hoare's comments would make it harder for Ms Spielman to do her job when she starts in January - that they will be like an "albatross around her neck".

Mr Hoare had been attempting to build bridges when he made his ill-advised comments last month.

Speaking to a room of young teachers at the Teach First event in Leeds, the Ofsted chair - who made his name as a corporate troubleshooter - was explaining that policymakers were guilty of ignoring disadvantaged coastal towns when it came to tackling educational underperformance. …

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