Ofsted’s David Hoare quits under pressure over Isle of Wight slur

David Hoare

The chair of Ofsted, David Hoare, who caused uproar when he described the Isle of Wight as a poor ghetto where there has been inbreeding, is to stand down.

The former City banker agreed to resign with immediate effect from his £50,000-a-year role after a meeting with the education secretary, Justine Greening, on Monday.

It is understood pressure to step down was put on Hoare at the meeting, where the Isle of Wight comments were discussed. He will receive no severance pay, Ofsted confirmed on Tuesday.

The Ofsted senior non-executive board member James Kempton will take on the role of chair on an interim basis while Greening starts the process of making a permanent appointment.

Hoare told told a teaching conference three weeks ago that the Isle of Wight was blighted by a “mass of crime, drug problems, huge unemployment” and underperforming schools.

His comments were made during a discussion about raising educational standards for the most disadvantaged communities.

Hoare, who has a home overlooking the island, told teachers that it was often a topic of conversation with his dinner party guests. “They think of it as holiday land. But it is shocking. It’s a ghetto. There has been inbreeding.”

His comments prompted outrage from Isle of Wight residents, with the council leader, Jonathan Bacon, describing them as “an insult to the proud and hardworking Isle of Wight community”.

Hoare apologised, twice, and appeared to have survived the outcry, boosted by the backing of the chief inspector of schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, who said the Ofsted chair had gone “over the top” but should be allowed to remain.

Wilshaw said Hoare had been right to draw public attention to underachievement in rural and coastal areas, such as the Isle of Wight, where school standards had been “terribly, pitifully low” until recently.

In a full and unreserved apology, Hoare acknowledged that some of his comments were offensive and unfounded, and promised to visit the island to find out more about the challenges being faced.

In a statement issued by the Isle of Wight council, he formally retracted his comments regarding crime, drug use and unemployment, describing them as “factually inaccurate”.

But on Tuesday, two weeks after that apology, Ofsted released a statement in which Hoare said: “I have today informed the secretary of state that I will be resigning from my position as chair with immediate effect.

“It has been a great privilege to chair the Ofsted board for the past two years. I am pleased that the organisation now has an excellent board in place with expertise across all of our remit areas, including early years and further education.”

Responding to his resignation, Greening said: “I have accepted David Hoare’s resignation from the post of chair of the board of Ofsted. I would like to thank David for his hard work in this role over the past two years.”

Hoare’s resignation was welcomed by Neil Leitch, the chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, who said his comments were “offensive, thoughtless and damaging”.

“Ofsted plays a pivotal role in supporting the provision of high-quality education services in all areas of the country. We hope that whoever replaces Mr Hoare takes this responsibility more seriously.”

The Isle of Wight MP, Andrew Turner, said: “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 [minority] population, and I stand by that view.”

In his statement, Hoare welcomed the appointment of Amanda Spielman, who is due to take over from Wilshaw as chief inspector in January.

“We have also 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.”

Meanwhile, early indications this year suggest that school exam results on the Isle of Wight may be improving, with 90% of students achieving the national benchmark of two A* to E passes at A-level, or equivalent, which is a three percentage point improvement on 2015. The number of students passing three A-levels has increased by four percentage points, from 64% in 2015, to 68% this year.

[Source: The Gurdian]