Education & Family

Ofsted chairman to visit Isle of Wight after full apology

David Hoare Image copyright other - AET handout
Image caption David Hoare's comments led to calls for his resignation

Ofsted chairman David Hoare has retracted comments about drug use and unemployment on the Isle of Wight and promised to visit the island.

"I understand that some of my specific comments were offensive as well as being unfounded. For this, I am truly sorry," said Mr Hoare.

In a joint statement with Isle of Wight council, Mr Hoare said that school standards on the island were rising.

Council leader Jonathan Bacon said he was "content" to accept the apology.

Mr Hoare's comments, made at a a recent teaching conference and highlighted in the Times Educational Supplement, prompted outrage on the island and led to calls for him to resign.

On Friday, Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted's chief inspector, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Mr Hoare had gone "over the top" but said he should not resign.

In the comments, Mr Hoare said the Isle of Wight had a reputation as "holiday land... but it is shocking".

He added: "It's a ghetto; there has been inbreeding.

"Seven state schools were all less than good. There is a mass of crime, drug problems, huge unemployment."

Image caption The Isle of Wight may be a popular holiday destination but it faces distinct challenges when it comes to attracting teachers

But in the joint statement, Mr Hoare said he wanted publicly to extend an apology to everyone on the island.

"I now also recognise that my comments regarding crime, drug-use and unemployment on the island were factually inaccurate and I therefore formally retract them here.

"As I made clear in the statement I issued on Friday, my intention had been to highlight the problem of poor educational outcomes in many of our coastal communities, especially among low-income white British children.

"I was using the Isle of Wight as an example to illustrate this point because of the concerns Ofsted has raised in the past about low school standards on the island.

"I would like to formally acknowledge that while there is much more still to do, school standards on the Isle of Wight are rising."

Island challenges

Mr Hoare added that he wanted to place on record his appreciation for the hard work of students, teachers, and school leaders in raising standards.

He said that following a conversation with Mr Bacon he now had a better understanding of the challenges facing island communities, such as difficulties in recruiting and retaining teachers.

Mr Bacon said these challenges were too often overlooked.

"If Mr Hoare had been describing an inner-city area in the terms he had there would likely be significant levels of government intervention and funding to turn around the 'causes' of poor educational performance."

He said he was concerned that the rate of progress in the island's schools would be slowed as the government continued "to reduce our levels of funding".

Mr Hoare has agreed to visit the island to learn more about the challenges it faces.

Mr Bacon said he looked forward to welcoming him "in due course".

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