Sir Michael Wilshaw responding to questions from the Education Select Committee : Annual Report 13/02/2013

Some of the main points from Sir Michael Wilshaw’s (SMW) evidence from his annual report to the Education Select Committee (ESC)

I’ve tried to represent as accurately as I can the response SMW gave. Sorry for any discrepancies that may have crept in – but there’s always the video to watch, though at over 2 hours you may prefer the gist below. I’ve avoided identifying ‘headlines’ – that is what some papers and commentators will do and too often SMWs words have been spun or taken out of context to give a sensationalist item.

The full video can be found here:

(video note: the broadcast doesn’t commence until 13.54 mins into the time-line)

14.20 : ESC ask how things are going amongst the leadership at Ofsted. SMW feels he is getting the right team into place.

15.53 : ESC ask if the ‘risk-focused’ annual reports from Ofsted are fair. SMW feels they are.

17.00 : ESC ask about inspection arrangement for children educated at home (extended response from SMW not noted here but on video)

20.25 : ESC ask about school Governor qualities and are they satisfactory for their role

22.30 : ESC ask about styles of leadership in schools. SMW says that a good head will always have a weather-eye on the school’s outcomes given its intake

24.10 : SMW believes that Local Authorities (LAs) should be keeping an eye on Academies & their results within their area and writing to Academy chairs or DfE if they have grounds for concern.

27.20 : ESC ask how Ofsted can incentivise the best HTs and teachers to work in schools in the most disadvantaged areas.

28.45 : SMW states a school can still be ‘outstanding’ even if it is below national average or even floor targets if it is making outstanding progress

29.05 : SMW is considering another Ofsted category of ‘Outstanding Leadership’ for schools whose teachers work in/with disadvantaged communities

30.10 : ESC ask what a good LA looks like. SMW refers to Wigan and how it uses its best HTs to support other schools that need it. LAs need to be more pro-active and serve warning notices to schools that are not making sufficient progress. Says some LAs have ‘too many cosy fire-side chats’ (with some schools)

32.00 : ESC ask how Academies should be monitored when decline sets in. SMW thinks LAs should do it. Goes on to say he thinks Ofsted should have powers to inspect Academy chains and believes the DfE has accepted the need for this. He doesn’t see why Academy chains shouldn’t be subject to some sort of performance table as LAs are.

35.00 : SMW agrees he was misinterpreted about his remarks on teacher stress. He wasn’t talking about classroom teachers and is concerned how the system deals with the stress that deters good DHTs applying to become HTs

42.45 : SMW accepts only 20% of teachers have confidence that change within Ofsted is well managed. Confident that the re-organisation of Ofsted taking place will see this improve by the next survey.

44.45 : SMW says in general his Annual report shows schools are getting better – not as quickly as they should be – but getting better.

49.00 : SMW suggests there is some disagreement with the DfE over regional Ofsted powers. He believes the 8 regional Ofsted inpectors need executive powers to influence the increasing autonomous system of Academisation.

51.00 : SMW says teaching schools have a strong role in bringing about school improvement in the area. LA role should be active in brokering and incentivising practitioners from teaching schools to work with other schools that require support.

52.15 : SMW says Ofsted is being repositioned to help share good practice. Away from just inspecting to become a schoool-improvement brokerage mechanism. Says Ofsted website has many examples of good practice and hopes to expand it further.

57.00 : SMW explains that schools not classified as Good or Outstanding have 4 years to improve. Two full inspections within the 4 years and monitoring inspections throughout when perceived as necessary.

58.00 : ESC ask what’s the point of LA league tables when there are so many Academies. SMW states that LAs have a statutory obligation for all students in their area irrespective of type of school attended.

01.01 : ESC ask how LAs can intervene with an Academy. SMW says they should contact the Secretary of State or the Academies division at the DfE with concerns.

01.03 : ESC query whether everyone at the DfE have the same view on this as SMW, that LAs can influence Academy chains.

01.05 : SMW has raised the issue of what should be done about failing LAs. DfE is thinking about this.

01.08 : SMW says Ofsted has a duty to help and support schools in poor LAs. HTs want Ofsted to give support and advice

01.11 : SMW says his new role is that of King Lear: touring the country talking to regional directors of Ofsted. His reputation will depend on the new system being seen to work.

01.14 : ESC ask if SMW is happy with the people he’s appointed as regional directors and the teaching experience of Ofsted inspectors. SMW says half of Ofsted inspectors have HT experience. ESC urge him to have more.

01.20 : ESC ask about FE inspection. SMW says FE is the cinderella area of education. He’s concerned about the lack of attention this sector receives.

01.41 : ESC ask if school improvement is a real one or statistical. SMW says the challenge is to retain good teachers within teaching and aim them for leadership.

01.42 : ESC ask if Ofsted has the remit to hold Academy chains to account given some have variable track records. SMW says he’s finding it very difficult to get the information he needs from the DfE. There is variable quality in different chains that he’s aware of but he doesn’t have the statutory powers to intervene with them. If people have concerns with a chain – they should write to the DfE or to Ofsted – and they’ll investigate.

01.45 : SMW concerned about school variability within an area. Pocket of low school provision in pocket on the S. coast surrounded by very good schools. Wants to see incentivisation for good schools to work with poorer ones.

01.49 : ESC is shocked that SMW is not getting the data from the DfE about Academy chains that he’s been asking for. SMW says he asked them for it months ago but believes they haven’t got their act together.

01.50 : SMW says the merger of the National College (of School Leadership) with the Training Agency is going well. The best place for a teacher to train is in an outstanding school.

01.52 : ESC ask about the Pupil Premium – how will he know if the money is being spent well. SMW says inspectors will focus closely at FSM students’ performance and evidence of Pupil Premium being used effectively.

01.55 : SMW says Looked After children are to be focused on. If a school isn’t closing the gap between LA/FSM children and the rest – then there is an issue. Ofsted needs to be more forensic in this area. Best practice is being seen in schools with a high proportion of FSM students; poorest in schools with low proportion.

2.00 : SMW says he’s concerned about quality of provision in early years. Quality of teaching and personnel hasn’t been good enough, pay hasn’t been good enough and there is a need for better training especially in child-minding.


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