Ofsted Head Sir Michael Wilshaw: All Teachers Should Be Qualified

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All teachers should be qualified, says Michael Wilshaw
All teachers should be qualified, says Michael Wilshaw

The new Ofsted chief has revealed he wants all teachers to be qualified - a stark contrast to education secretary Michael Gove's, who appears to sanction unqualified staff.

In a House of Commons question session held by the education select committee, Sir Michael Wilshaw told the panel: "I would expect all the teachers in my school to have qualified teacher status."

"When I was a head, if we were short of teachers I would occasionally employ an unqualified person and put them through a graduate teacher programme. My concern in the college sector is they can go year after year without receiving that validation.

"What I want to see is all heads to ensure their unqualified teachers can teach effectively and when that is proved they are given Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)."

His comments are in direct contrast to Gove's policies; the minister's free schools can recruit unqualified individuals to teach students and he has publicly fronted a campaign to draft ex-military personnel into schools.

But Wilshaw's stance will no doubt be welcome news to many trained out-of-work teachers who feel free school staff are impinging on their profession.

Wilshaw, who has been Ofsted's head for eight weeks, is already making waves. During the committee hearing, he announced Ofsted did not have an adequate level of involvement in failing schools and had to be an agent for improvement.

"I think Ofsted and Her Majesty's Inspectorate (HMI) have a role in instead of walking away after an inspection instead asking ourselves how, once a school is in trouble, we can help improve it."

The right to autonomy was also challenged by the panel, who asked Wilshaw whether autonomy should be earned and not granted merely on the basis an institution is an academy.

"It is the danger of the system," the Ofsted chief replied. "We have seen academies fail where the wrong head teacher has been appointed. There are academies who are not doing a good job. But I am optimistic about the future of leadership.

"In the 40 years I have been teaching I have never seen such good teachers enter the profession as I do now. We are working on school support more now. We have a growing number of good and outstanding heads who are taking control of the system and showing other heads the way."

Wilshaw also said he was encouraged by the number of young people willing to take up apprenticeships but warned they must be seen as credible and not going down the "soft route".

He added to Ofsted must comment on careers services provided by schools in their reports in the future as a school should not be deemed "good" without good career advice for students to match.

Oddly, despite Ofsted's recent announcement it would not be inspecting free schools for the first two years, Wilshaw highlighted his concerns about the "five year gap" between school inspections.

"If we are inspecting every five years we do not know what is happening during that time. It could be too late for some schools. We need an intermediary level of inspections so we catch failing schools early. We cannot wait for the end-of-period judgement to intervene.

"Children may be born poor but they are not born unintelligent," he concluded. "We have to have a no-excuses culture."