Ofsted chairman David Hoare has been at the receiving end of criticism following comments in which he described the Isle of Wight as a poor white “ghetto” where “inbreeding” takes place.
A former city banker, Hoare made the comments during a discussion on the island’s underperforming schools. Speaking to educators at a Teach First conference in Leeds, he related how the topic is one that comes up often at his dinner parties:
“They think of it as holiday land. But it is shocking. It’s a ghetto; there has been inbreeding.
“Seven state schools were all less than good. There is a mass of crime, drug problems, huge unemployment.”
As reported by The Independent, the Isle of Wight is one of England’s most underperforming areas for education, and was named last year as one of 16 local authorities where roughly 60 per cent of children have below average attainment levels.
However, Mr. Hoare has been the target of considerable backlash following his comments. Green party education spokeswoman Vix Lowthion stated that, while she agreed the island does have problems with education:
“I’m 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 does. We need support and investment, not name calling… We do not have high crime, I think he has shown his ignorance.”
Councillor Jonathan Bacon, leader of the Isle of Wight Council, criticised the Ofsted boss’s comments, saying they were “ill-judged” and “an insult to the proud and hardworking Isle of Wight community.”
In a piece for Conservative Home, Chris Whitehouse, Education Spokesman for the Conservative Group of the Isle of Wight Council, said that Mr. Hoare’s recent comments had made his position “untenable.” Whitehouse also challenges Hoare to provide evidence that the island is “inbred” and, “indeed, any evidence to suggest that anywhere in England experiences poor educational standards because of inbreeding.”
Whitehouse derides the comments as being not only misled, but also unintelligent, claiming that “the gene pool on the Island, as it happens, is probably as diverse as any in England outside the main metropolitan cities since it has been a home for seafaring, shipbuilding, military bases, and seasonal labour for centuries.”
The Guardian has run an opinion piece written by Polly Toynbee that heavily condemns the Ofsted chairman’s comments. Toynbee states that Hoare, “like many privileged people, clings to the delusion that brilliance earns wealth and power- while the poor have only themselves to blame.”
Mr. Hoare has apologised for his comments, saying that he was sorry for “any upset or offence” caused by his words, adding:
“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.”
As reported by BT News, Mr. Hoare also acknowledged that his comments on crime, drug-use, and unemployment on the island were “factually inaccurate,” with the Ofsted chairman also announcing that he pledges to visit the island following his comments.
According to the BBC, Ofsted have also 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.