Hull MP Emma Hardy has torn into an ex-chief of Ofsted for saying northern schools were letting down poor children, labelling his comments “offensive”. Hull Live reports.
Sir Michael Wilshaw made the comments at a Labour Party conference fringe event looking at the future of academy schools. The retired 72-year-old, who was head of Ofsted from 2012 until 2016, drew the ire of Ms Hardy, who said the schools watchdog failed to recognise the conditions teachers in poor areas of the north of England had to work in.
“You have to face the facts that too many secondary schools – not primary schools incidentally – in the north of England, often run by Labour local authorities and councils, are doing badly. It is a fact and you have to accept that fact,” he told the Education Policy Institute event on Monday, 24 September.
“In the year I left Ofsted, not one young person on free school meals won a place at Oxbridge in the whole of the north east of England and Yorkshire and Humberside, when there were many poor children getting a place in those top universities from London and the south east.”
But Ms Hardy, a former primary school teacher, was applauded by the audience when she told the ex-chief of Ofsted she thought schools could not be judged on results alone.
“We have a growing problem of antisocial behaviour across my constituency and across many areas which is driven by this off-rolling behaviour [removing students because of low grades] and – [addressing Sir Michael] you can continue to pull faces but I go into schools and I see schools having to provide washing machines and tumble dryers and food parcels.
“So don’t tell me that those children have an equal chance to the other kids down the road, because they don’t.”
“If we are serious about school improvement – and this is what the Labour Party should be saying –if we are serious about ‘every child matters’, then we should be saying, number one, before we look at our schools, that no child in this country lives in poverty,” Ms Hardy said.
“And I think to ignore all that and dismiss that is grossly and deeply unfair. It takes away from the fact that there are teachers working in these schools who are absolutely outstanding and failing to be recognised as such by Ofsted just because their data [results] isn’t saying so.”
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