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High-handed, pompous and egotistical – Clancy on Wilshaw

High-handed, pompous and egotistical – Clancy on Wilshaw

🕔12.Dec 2016

Sir Michael Wilshaw has not trumpeted Birmingham’s educational achievements or services for children for some time. Ever since the Trojan Horse scandal – the ramifications of which continue to reverberate – the outgoing chief inspector of schools has retained his harshest public criticisms for the country’s largest local authority. 

In a Sunday Times article yesterday, Sir Michael said that the Trojan Horse scandal could be repeated. He described the council as a “rotten borough… beyond redemption”, and said the state of its schools and children’s social services had been his biggest cause of concern during his time at Ofsted.

Sir Michael said:

Birmingham is the equivalent of the 19th-century rotten borough.

If the government does not act in Birmingham in terms of corporate governance, I am concerned we will see a return to Trojan Horse issues at some stage.

It is up to a commission of inquiry to reform Birmingham.

It is not acceptable that our second city should be second division in terms of education and children’s services.

John Clancy, leader of Birmingham city council, had some particularly strong words for the outgoing Ofsted boss. High-handed, pompous and egotistical, not to mention the most harmful of accusations – a poor record in office, according to Labour’s leader in Birmingham.

Here is what Cllr Clancy had to say in full:

Sir Michael Wilshaw is thankfully leaving the public stage this month. He leaves with an appalling record of harm to both education and children’s social services in Birmingham. He is a civil servant but his high-handed approach has all too often appeared to be a political attack on those that run Birmingham children’s services.

This latest appalling outburst exemplifies his entire approach from day one and I believe his pompous interventions have actually been in real danger of harming the social fabric of the city.

We can regard Sir Michael’s comments as the last rants of an outgoing civil servant who achieved nothing much in his career in public life. He talks a good game, but has a poor record in reality.

Sir Michael Wilshaw record as a Chief Inspector of Schools is poor. At the end of his stewardship, 70 per cent of local authority children’s services are judged to be inadequate or requiring improvement and the number of schools in special measures is now at a record high.

I think there must be some underlying reason which has prompted this extraordinary outburst, drawing attention to himself as he leaves the stage. We may find out, in the fullness of time, what this was. Most had assumed he’d already gone.

I’m proud that eight out of 10 schools in Birmingham are rated by OFSTED as good or outstanding. I’m proud that Birmingham has the best GCSE results of any of our 10 UK Core Cities. Progress was noted for the first time in many years by OFSTED itself in our children’s services last month.

Sir Michael Wilshaw will be missed by no-one but his ego, and I look forward to working with his successor to take forward our positive progress in the city.

Cllr Clancy was joined by his Cabinet colleague Brigid Jones in rejecting Sir Michael’s latest outburst. The cabinet member for children families and schools, said:

We do not recognise this caricature of Birmingham. Nor indeed does the Department for Education (DfE), our commissioners, nor all those who have seen our steady and assured progress in improving the lives of all our children.

Not only have Sir Michael’s own Ofsted inspectors confirmed our progress in protecting vulnerable children in a report published just two weeks ago, the DfE has confirmed that we no longer need an education commissioner, such is the good work we are doing.

We have been working closely with Ofsted in shutting down unregistered schools; in fact, we have been at the forefront of calling for extra powers for local authorities commensurate with our safeguarding role.

We have been praised by the Home Office for our work on the Prevent programme and are seen as a leading light on this important issue.

Despite being one of the most deprived cities in the country, our GCSE results are the best of any core city and we are achieving really good A-level results.

Like other large cities, we have a small number of schools that have a very large ethnic minority make-up, just as we have a small number of schools with a very large white make-up. Neither of these is the same as a mono-culture; we are a super diverse city and proud of it.

We could go on. But let us just say what a shame it is that these unfortunate and intemperate comments achieve nothing positive, but instead potentially demoralise our incredibly hard-working social workers and teachers and paint an unfair and inaccurate portrait of our wonderful and vibrant city.

Needless to say, we will not be blown off course by such sideswipes; we know we are heading in the right direction and we have faith in ourselves, our partners, our city and most importantly our children.

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