Wilshaw replacement could be from USA charter movement, reports Telegraph

Janet Downs's picture

Nicky Morgan is considering importing the next Chief Inspector of Schools from the USA, the Telegraph reports.

These are the contenders according to the paper:

Dave Levin, co-founder of the Knowledge is Power Programme (KIPP) group credited with raising performance of deprived, particularly black, pupils.   But KIPP has been accused of selecting the most-motivated poor students and of having a high rate of attrition among black pupils. 

KIPP pupils did badly in the 2013 Common Core Tests in New York.  This led Michael Petrilli, an education analyst at the Thomas B Fordham Institute, to suggest ‘we have to be more careful about claims of miracle schools’.

Doug Lemov, head of the Uncommon Schools charter school chain and author of Teach Like A Champion, described by Jane Manzone, a North London Primary Teacher as ‘the new teacher training bible because it is infinitely more digestible and practical in a data-driven landscape demanding results.’  She wasn’t being altogether complimentary – she was expressing concern that such quick-fix tips-for-teachers were driving out intellectual engagement with educational theorists and philosophers.

Eva Moskowitz, chief executive of Success Academy Charter Schools.  Two days ago, the New York Times described a video of a teacher at a Success Academy Charter School abusing a first-grade pupil, ripping up her work and ordering her sharply to sit in the ‘calm-down chair’. 

Moskowitz said the video was an ‘anomaly’ but interviews with 20 past and current Success teachers said that while the teacher’s behaviour was ‘extreme’, much of it wasn’t ‘uncommon’ within the Success network.  You can watch the video here.

Joel Klein, who ‘took on the teaching unions’ when chancellor of New York Schools.  He later joined Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation as leader of News Corp’s growing education division.  Klein was invited by Michael Gove to attend the first (and only) Free School Conference in 2011.  Gove was later grilled over his relationship with Murdoch and Klein at the Leveson Inquiry

Klein was head of Amplify, a News Corp subsidiary linked with Wireless Generation to introduce tablet technology into USA schools.  Amplify employed Rachel Wolf, first director of the New Schools Network, the tax-payer funded charity which supports free schools.   Amplify performed poorly and was sold in Autumn 2015 to its management team.  Klein stepped down as CEO but is still on Amplify’s board. 

Two days ago, the New York Times reported that Klein was leaving education to join Oscar, a New York health insurance start-up.  It’s unlikely, then, that Klein will have sufficient free time to become Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools.  Meanwhile, Wolf has returned to the UK and joined the team of advisers at Number 10 on £80,000 (pro-rata) – rather more than your average teacher pay. 

An in-depth knowledge of education in England is not essential to become Ofsted chief, apparently.  Neither is any experience of working in English schools.   Involvement in the US charter school movement appears vital despite US charters only showing ‘modest’ improvements after 20 years of investment, controversy and schools opening and closing.  And ‘taking on the unions’ is also deemed a desirable quality.

Ofsted is supposed to be independent of Government.  Its role is to inspect services for children and young people and services offering education and skills.  It is supposed to be impartial.  Nicky Morgan appears to have no regard for such niceties.  It’s clear she regards the Chief HMI as a political appointment whose prime loyalty is to the Government.

UPDATE 16 February 2016 0756:  Lemov and Moskowitz have ruled themselves out of the running, according to TES.  

UPDATE 18 February 2016 09.17.  TES reports that Levin says he hasn't been contacted (officially) by the DfE.  That just leaves Klein but he's just started a new job.






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Phil Taylor's picture
Sun, 14/02/2016 - 15:50

I've never believed that the heads of Ofsted have been  entirely independent of government Janet though some have occasionally distanced themselves. As for the latest proposal, it's just the sort of idiotic idea that we have come to expect. There's a common view in the political establishment that everything that happens in the USA should happen here, and education is no exception even though it has never been clear that the US system is superior in any respect. Thanks for the information about the likely candidates and the not unexpected information that the achievements of the charter schools are as unimpressive overall as those of the academies whose deficiencies you regularly report on LSN.

Whatever next, 

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 14/02/2016 - 16:07

It's true Wilshaw was headhunted by Gove and for a while it looked as if Wilshaw was playing ball (the infamous about-turn re Downhils, for example).  But then Wilshaw started to irritate Gove and the DfE wanted him gone.  They had a high-profile, public spat if I remember.

It's also true Wilshaw was too prone to praise academies (especially sponsored ones) though that was toned down in his last annual report when he said structure didn't matter and the debate had moved on - it hasn't, of course.  And he is rather keen on imposing his ideas of how schools should be run eg strict uniform rules, pupils standing up when adults enter room (I'd rather see pupils so engaged in their work they didn't notice anyone coming into the room and not take each interruption as an excuse to stop work).  And the constant changes in Ofsted criteria have been demoralising - schools are always playing catch-up with the latest handbook.

And now it appears that the US way of running prisons is gaining traction in the Justice Department which is where Gove has migrated to.  US prisons, of course, are such wonderful places.

I'm no fan of Wilshaw but at least he's been head of English schools and has a working knowledge of English state education.   None of the above have.  


Jane Eades's picture
Sun, 14/02/2016 - 17:01

It says everything that this Government has no faith in the ability of British citizens to run any of its large public services - I wonder why that is?  Will they be giving out the same sort of package given to, for example, Moya Green of Royal Mail (I have a particular interest in what she gets paid because it appears that she is unable to ensure that we get mail delivereries every day or even every other day!)

I agree that at least Wilshaw had taught and run a school, even if his claim to fame was based on the lie that Mossbourne replaced Hackney Downs.


Roger Titcombe's picture
Sun, 14/02/2016 - 18:15

Debra Kidd's picture
Sat, 20/02/2016 - 00:18

So let's take the pro/anti government stance away from the debate and look at what we're left with. After six years in power the government seems to be so lacking in confidence in its own system that it can't find a candidate within the country. Which is odd given their trumpeting of academisation . So admitting failure they look elsewhere. You would imagine they'd look to a system outperforming our own, especially given their own lamentations about our positions in PISA tests. So why choose a candidate from a country sitting well below our own? I mean they'd be better looking to Shanghai or even Finland, surely? But of course not, because in Shanghai, the education system is looking to make its curriculum more creative. And Finland, well, that's a hotbed of radical progressivism isn't it? And we can't be seen to be condoning that....

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