The boss of Ofsted looks set to keep his job despite prompting anger by describing the Isle of Wight as a ghetto suffering from the effects of ‘inbreeding.’
David Hoare had gone ‘over the top’ but had apologised and should be allowed to remain in his job, said Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector of schools.
He said Mr Hoare had been right highlight educational under-achievement in rural and coastal areas such as the Island.
Mr Hoare faced criticism after being taped making his remarks at a teaching conference.
The Times Educational Supplement reported that he said of the Isle of Wight: ‘Most people go there for sailing for two weeks a year. There’s a sailing club that is one of the best in the world, where there’s champagne.
‘But just within inches, there are people who live in a ghetto. They think of it as holiday land. But it is shocking. It’s a ghetto; there has been inbreeding.
The Ofsted chairman, who has a holiday home on the south coast, was reported as saying: ‘I have a house overlooking the Isle of Wight and often over a dinner party, someone will ask ‘How is education?’”
‘I say, “Fantastic, I love doing what I am doing. We’re really going to make a difference.” But I say, “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”.
‘And I say “Where is it? Portsmouth? No. Chichester? No. Bognor? No. We’re seven miles away and you don’t know we have a ghetto seven miles away”. British, white, poor, living on the Isle of Wight.’
The leader of the Isle of Wight Council, Jonathan Bacon, said the comments were ‘truly offensive.’
And Conservative councillor Chris Whitehouse said they were ‘absolutely inaccurate, inflammatory, unhelpful, unacceptable and frankly despicable.’
But Sir Michael told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘My view is that he should stay in his job. He has apologised, he’s been big enough to understand that he went over the top, that he didn’t use appropriate language and he has apologised profusely.
‘He’s been a good chair. He’s run the board well. And he’s been a good support to Ofsted. He is passionate about school improvement. My view is that he should remain.
‘He has drawn everyone’s attention to the problems of areas like the Isle of Wight and coastal resorts.
‘It’s something that I’ve been talking about in my time as Ofsted’s chief inspector.
‘We undertook a focused inspection of the Isle of Wight four years ago and found standards to be terribly, pitifully low.
‘Children were being failed in many of the schools in the Isle of Wight. As a result of that, schools are now improving because Hampshire local authority - a very good local authority - has taken over the school improvement service and are doing good things in the Isle of Wight.
‘He’s not accurate in the language that he used in terms of inbreeding, but he is right to draw people’s attention - as I’ve drawn people’s attention - to the problems in isolated communities, in rural areas and in coastal resorts.
‘Under-achievement is now not generally taking place in the inner cities and the big towns, it is taking place in these sorts of areas.’