'Championing the rights of children'

Gove considered removing Wilshaw as Ofsted chief, memo reveals

Garry Fri 10 Oct 2014 09:01

Leak reveals former education secretary discussed ‘serious and growing problem’ of schools regulator run by Sir Michael Wilshaw.

Michael Gove considered replacing Sir Michael Wilshaw as chief inspector of schools amid deep-seated frustrations over his performance, an internal Whitehall memo passed to the Guardian reveals.

The Department for Education document reveals that the former education secretary, senior officials and DfE board members discussed the “serious and growing problem” of Ofsted as run by Wilshaw.

The leak comes at an acutely sensitive time for the schools regulator, who risked a further disagreement with the department – now run by Nicky Morgan – because of an about-turn over universal no-notice inspections.

Wilshaw announced on Thursday that Ofsted would not be introducing inspections of schools without warning other than in special circumstances, despite Gove, Morgan and David Cameron supporting the idea after the Trojan horse Birmingham schools controversy.

The memo, circulated in October last year and written by Gove’s then special adviser Dominic Cummings, says that he, schools minister Lord Nash and DfE board member Theo Agnew were “increasingly alarmed” about Ofsted and Wilshaw’s managerial abilities.

“Despite constant pressure from us and constant assurances, there is no evidence that [Wilshaw] is substantially changing the organisation – and considerable evidence from a constant flow of blogs and emails that problems are either the same or getting worse,” Cummings added.

“It seems he cannot break the cycle of speeches and media attention – this cycle continues regardless of however many times he is asked to focus,” Cummings wrote, concluding: “It is worth thinking about the whole Ofsted approach with a blank sheet of paper.”

Read more... (The Guardian - 09 October)