The Plastic Hippo

December 11, 2014


Sir Michael Wilshaw via

Sir Michael Wilshaw via

It would be a fair assumption to expect a former Head Teacher, Knight of the Realm and Chief Inspector of Schools to be in possession of a least a modicum of intelligence. Sir Michael Wilshaw is doing his level best to ensure that students, parents and teachers never make the mistake of assuming anything.

Sir Michael is obviously a very intelligent Chief Inspector of Schools and only says stupid things because of the perfectly understandable assumption that his audience of students, parents and teachers are stupid. His annual Ofsted report into the state of the nation`s schools is an impeccable master-class in how to undermine and discredit anyone involved in the education of young people apart from, of course, Ofsted, the Department for Education, his good self and various duplicitous government ministers. He is either dangerous or he is attempting a new career as a comedian. Sadly, the former seems to be the case.

His report states that the school system “continues to improve” based on the findings of 2013 – 2014 inspections and that more than 80 per cent of schools are good or outstanding. He then states that approximately 33 per cent of schools fall below this statistical benchmark. Is there anyone with a basic grasp of Key Stage 1 maths able to spot a bit of a flaw in the data? Sir Michael explained that this adjustment is due to lovely Primary Schools and rotten Secondary Schools and then blamed a lack of strong leadership, disruptive behaviour, poor teaching and a crisis in recruiting adequate staff. For good measure, he threw in a far from subtle reference to the Trojan Horse Plot which, as no conclusive evidence has been produced, remains something called a hoax.

Let us take a look at strong leadership. Sir Michael Wilshaw was appointed in 2012. Since then the number of student being taught in an inadequate schools has increased by 70,000 to 170,000. In a year, the number of schools in special measures has increased by 50. He has gone on record to announce his pleasure that as far as Ofsted is concerned, fear of it “is a good thing”. As an actual teacher, he demanded that pupils should stand a recite a bizarre mantra when he entered the classroom. Sir Michael is clearly intelligent enough to realise that a bully is not necessarily a strong leader.

Disruptive behaviour can be addressed by citing the former Secretary of State Michael Gove as a positive role model. Gove was regularly rebuked in the House of Commons for interrupting, shouting and waving his arms about as only as sufferer of ADHD can appreciate. He was sacked not because he was obviously dangerous but because he had become too toxic. His replacement, by contrast, is so bland as to make Ruth Kelly seem interesting. Remember her? No, nor me or the name of the new Secretary of State.

The Head of Ofsted now worries about the standard of teaching but offers no insight into the numbers of teachers leaving the profession due to harassment by Ofsted and the Department, data driven targets, endless book trawls and constantly being told that you are rubbish or a Marxist or both by half-witted officials who can afford private schooling. The answer; recruit anyone without a teaching qualification and dispense with silly CRB checks.

Sir Michael was at his comedic best when he told educationalists to stop their “sterile” arguments regarding the status of schools. It seems that it is irrelevant if a school is a state school or an Academy as increased autonomy will help to schools to improve. There are a number of funny gags here. State schools scrutinised by Local Authorities are more accountable to elected representatives and Heads in unaccountable Academies are free to embezzle money and indoctrinate children. The difference is clearly irrelevant and very funny. Or maybe not.

Having established that all schools are the same under his God-like gaze, the completely apolitical, unbiased and independent Chief Inspector “named and shamed” 13 Local Authorities that are failing to provide at least 50 per cent of good or outstanding schools. Nine are Labour controlled councils in the north of England along with one that has a directly elected Labour mayor. Middlesbrough has a rather dodgy Independent elected mayor with a shady past and the prosperous Isle of Wight is run by a rag bag bunch of right-wing Independents who occupy a suitably maritime hunting ground for Greater Spotted Kippers. The only Tory council named and shamed is the East Riding of Yorkshire. Imagine being a Conservative councillor in God`s Own County judged to be so useless that Ofsted, the DfE and Conservative Central Office decide to pull the rug and issue the fish knives.

The naming and shaming of these Authorities by Sir Michael Wilshaw might cause some cynics to suggest that Ofsted is attempting to influence the voting intentions of parents in predominately white, working class constituencies. This, of course, is nonsense and merely Marxist propaganda. The conspiracy theorists will no doubt refer to Sir Michael`s evangelical Christian zeal to explain why failing Academies are included in the data for failing Local Authorities. This is contemptible heresy as it is obvious to all decent minded people that Labour councils are ultimately responsible for Academies in exactly the same way that Ed Miliband is responsible for England losing more wickets and scoring fewer runs than Sri Lanka. Local Education Authorities have no jurisdiction, control or right of scrutiny over Academies.

Sir Michael Wilshaw is a very intelligent man even if, at times, his mathematical skills require improvement and his grammar and sentence construction tends to be a bit Ozzy Osbourne. He is perfectly placed to lead an inspection regime that starts with a conclusion and ends with an inspection.

I would love to see his lesson plan and his bank balance.


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