As some readers may know, TeachVac, the free to use recruitment site for schools, teachers, trainees and returners to teaching, has its operational base on the Isle of Wight. I was, therefore, disgusted to read of the comments by the Chair of Ofsted about the islanders. The comments themselves don’t dignify with repeating, but I am firmly of the opinion that Mr Hoare, the Ofsted chairman, having made the remarks at a public event should now do the decent thing and resign in line with the principles of public life he presumably accepted when offered his appointment.
This does not mean that there should be an unwillingness to confront some of the deep-seated issues within schooling on the Island that go back many years. The Tory government in the early 1970s was probably wrong to create a single unitary council for the Island and not instead to enforce closer working with Hampshire or even Dorset. The island may have made an unfortunate choice in opting for the three tier school system when creating a comprehensive school system. It probably fitted the use of buildings best of any system but, along with other councils that opted for such systems, they weren’t to know that changes in the way teachers were trained for secondary schools, away from undergraduate courses and towards a one-year PGCE, may not have helped provide sufficient teachers willing, able, properly trained and motived to work in ‘middle schools’, especially the 9-13 middle schools in use on the Isle of Wight.
These middle schools eventually also faced challenges finding head teachers willing to run what were increasingly isolated pockets of such schools, a fact pointed out in some of the annual reports that I complied about the leadership market for NAHT and from time to time ASCL as well.
Then there is the issue of location. Much has been made in recent years of the challenges of coastal schools. In practice, this really means more isolated schools wherever they are, but the issue was first noticed in relation to coastal schools with a more limited hinterland than other schools. The Island has a limited travel to work area and that can restrict recruitment as can the very nature of being an island and the extra time it takes to reach the mainland.
The fact that all of these issues are well known makes Mr Hoare’s comments even more unforgivable, if he said what has been reported.
TeachVac is proud to be located on the Isle of Wight and has employed some excellent staff since we started operations just over two years ago. The company will continue to put its faith in the Island as a location and I join in on the call on Mr Hoare to resign. Whatever the reason for his remarks, they were uncalled for and should not have been made.
Mr Hoare resigned on the 23rd August 2016 just over two weeks after his remarks became public knowledge.