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Ofsted chief resigns over 'offensive and damaging' Isle of Wight comments

Article By: Sue Learner, Editor

David Hoare, chair of Ofsted, has resigned, following a furore over comments he made saying the Isle of Wight was a ghetto where there was inbreeding, high unemployment and high crime rates.

Mr Hoare who lives near the Isle of Wight told the TES that the poor performance of the island’s schools was often a topic of conversation at dinner parties at his house.

He said: “They think of it as holiday land. But it is shocking. It's a ghetto; there has been inbreeding."

He added that “seven state schools were all less than good” and referred to a “mass of crime, drug problems” and “huge unemployment”.

Ofsted immediately distanced itself from the comments saying “the Chairman was expressing his personal views. They do not reflect the views of Ofsted or the Chief Inspector”.

It has now revealed that he has stepped down from the post with immediate effect.

James Kempton, a member of the Ofsted board, will take over on an interim basis.

In a statement, Mr Hoare said: "It has been a great privilege to chair the Ofsted board for the past two years.

"I am pleased that the organisation now has an excellent board in place with expertise across all of our remit areas, including early years and further education.

“I am also pleased that Ofsted has recruited a strong new Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, who is due to take over from Sir Michael in January.

“We have also been able to agree on the strategic priorities for Ofsted, focusing on improving the life chances for the disadvantaged children of our country. I will miss working with an excellent team, making a real difference.”

'Offensive, thoughtless and damaging'

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, welcomed his resignation, saying: “Mr Hoare’s comments about the Isle of Wight were offensive, thoughtless and damaging, and it is right that he has stepped down from his position as Ofsted chair.

“Ofsted plays a pivotal role in supporting the provision of high-quality education services in all areas of the country. We hope that whoever replaces Mr Hoare takes this responsibility more seriously.”

After his initial comments in the TES where he said: “We’re living seven miles away from the second worst local authority when it comes to secondary education and the third worst when it comes to primary education, Mr Hoare later attempted to make amends, saying: “My intention was to highlight how concerned I am about the unacceptably poor performance of schools on the Isle of Wight over many years and how this is damaging the prospects of young people who live on the island.

"Those who know me will realise that I am passionate about improving outcomes for children from our most disadvantaged communities and my comments were made in this context.”

Calls for 'overhaul of Ofsted'

In the wake of Mr Hoare's resignation, the Green Party has called on the new Education Secretary Justine Greening to undertake a total overhaul of the 'inefficient and inadequate' body.

The Green Party's education spokesperson Vix Lowthion said: "I called for Mr Hoare's resignation two and a half weeks ago when his comments about the Isle of Wight's schools made his position untenable. Now we must move on from the personal and unsavoury nature of Mr Hoare's comments and resignation towards a collective effort to improving education standards for all.

"Action must be taken to reduce the inequality of funding for all school children in England and Wales. The Secretary of State for Education should now take this opportunity to improve the quality of school provision by overhauling Ofsted which time and again has proved to be an inefficient and inadequate way to assess our schools.”


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