Ofsted chairman David Hoare has resigned following a backlash after having referred to parts of the Isle of Wight as ‘inbred’ and a ‘ghetto.’
Mr Hoare was at the receiving end of heavy criticism following his comments at a Teach First conference in Leeds two weeks ago.
As reported by The Educator, during his talk, the outgoing chairman referred to the Isle of Wight by saying, “it’s a ghetto; there has been inbreeding.”
Furthermore, Mr Hoare made unsubstantiated allegations about crime and drug problems that he apologised for before handing in his resignation this week:
“Seven state schools were all less than good. There is a mass of crime, drug problems, huge unemployment.”
The criticism received by the then-Ofsted chairman included Green party education spokeswoman Vix Lowthion saying that she was “just appalled he can describe not just the Isle of Wight, but other coastal areas, like that and hold the position in office that he [did].”
Councillor Jonathan Bacon, leader of the Isle of Wight Council, called the Ofsted boss’s comments “ill-judged” and “an insult to the proud and hardworking Isle of Wight community.”
In his resignation statement, Mr Hoare said:
“It has been a great privilege to chair the Ofsted board for the past two years.”
He was chair of the board of Ofsted, England’s education watchdog, and was a strategic partner for the more high-profile role of chief inspector currently held by Sir Michael Wilshaw. Mr Hoare’s previous position as Ofsted chairman has been filled on an interim basis by James Kempton, a member of the Ofsted board.
According to the BBC, Education Secretary Justine Greening has accepted Mr Hoare’s resignation and has said:
“I would like to thank David for his hard work in this role over the past two years.”
Meanwhile, Labour’s shadow education secretary Angela Rayner, concluded starkly that:
“His position became increasingly untenable after he made those shockingly offensive comments. He demonised the entire population of the Isle of Wight.”
Not only did Mr Hoare’s comments two weeks ago fuel the fire for his resignation, it also led to debate on the relationship between privilege and the education system, with some claiming that representatives such as Mr Hoare have a skewed perception of Britain’s schools.
In a piece for the Guardian, Polly Toynbee criticised the Hoare’s comments, saying:
“Like many privileged people, [Hoare] clings to the delusion that brilliance earns wealth and power- while the poor have only themselves to blame.”
Isle of Wight MP Andrew Turner also feels that Mr Hoare has taken a necessary step as his role had become untenable. He made the following remarks that set out basic standards for a Chairman’s conduct:
“The role of Ofsted is to help improve education, not demoralise teachers, insult parents and pupils and those involved in raising education standards. His resignation, albeit somewhat delayed was probably inevitable and clearly for the best.
I said at the time that he would never have dared make such remarks about an area with a high ethnic population, and I stand by that view.”
In his initial apology, Mr Hoare had said:
“My intention was to highlight how concerned I am about the unacceptably poor performacnec 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.”
However, the widespread feeling was that his position was indeed untenable, highlighted largely by the fact that Ofsted themselves released a statement saying that Mr Hoare had been expressing a personal opinion and that his comments did not reflect the views of the inspectorate.
In his resignation statement, David Hoare signed off by expressing hope for the future:
“We have … been able to agree 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.”