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Ofsted chairman David Hoare describes Isle of Wight as 'inbred, poor, white ghetto'

'There’s a sailing club that is one of the best in the world, where there’s champagne,' the Ofsted boss reportedly said, 'but just within inches, there are people who live in a ghetto and we’ve allowed it to happen'

Rachael Pells
Friday 05 August 2016 09:53 BST
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David Hoare, a former banker, was named chairman of Ofsted in 2014
David Hoare, a former banker, was named chairman of Ofsted in 2014 (Ofsted)

Ofsted chairman David Hoare has come under fire for describing the Isle of Wight as a poor white “ghetto” that suffers from “inbreeding”.

Mr Hoare, a former City banker, made the comments as part of a discussion on the island’s underperforming schools, TES reported.

Speaking to educators at a Teach First conference in Leeds, he said the social implications were often a topic of interest with his dinner party guests.

“They think of it as holiday land. But it is shocking,” he said. “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.”

The Isle of Wight is one of England’s most underperforming areas for education, and was last year named as one of 16 local authorities where less than 60 per cent of children have below average attainment levels.

Mr Hoare, who has a holiday home near the island, was discussing the importance of improving education for the most disadvantaged pupils, adding that coastal towns were too often ignored.

“I have a house overlooking the Isle of Wight and often over a dinner party, someone will ask ‘How is education?’” he said.

“I say, ‘Fantastic, I love doing what I am doing. We’re really going to make a difference.’ But I say, ‘We’re living seven miles away from the second worst local authority when it comes to secondary education and the third worst when it comes to primary education’.

”And I say ‘Where is it? Portsmouth? No. Chichester? No. Bognor? No. We’re seven miles away and you don’t know we have a ghetto seven miles away’. British, white, poor, living on the Isle of Wight.“

He added: ”Most people go there for sailing for two weeks a year. There’s a sailing club that is one of the best in the world, where there’s champagne.”

“But just within inches, there are people who live in a ghetto and we’ve allowed it to happen.”

Councillor Jonathan Bacon, leader of the Isle of Wight Council, condemned the Ofsted boss's comments, calling them "ill-judged" and "an insult to the proud and hardworking Isle of Wight community".

"The Isle of Wight is working hard to raise the aspirations and attainment of our young people," he said, "something which Ofsted itself has recognised, not least in assessing our school improvement services as being effective."

He offered a personal invitation to Mr Hoare to visit the island, adding: "I am sure that Sir David would want to take every opportunity to clarify his position in respect of his views on Island residents, and I would be delighted if he were able to do this on a visit to the Isle of Wight which I would be happy to host."

The councillor admitted the island had some "significant challenges" in terms of its education standards, but said the council had made "good progress", despite a long-term reduction in government funding.

Green party education spokeswoman Vix Lowthion agreed that the Island does have education problems, but said: “I'm just appalled he can describe not just the Isle of Wight, but other coastal areas, like that and hold the position in office that he does. We need support and investment, not name calling.”

She told the Isle of Wight County Press: “I absolutely disagree with these terms. Some of his points were false. We do not have high crime, I think he has shown his ignorance.”

Mr Hoare later apologised for "any upset or offence" caused by the comments. He said: "My intention was to highlight how concerned I am about the unacceptably poor performacnec of schools on the Isle of Wight over many years and how this is damaging the prospects of young people who live on the island."

Meanwhile, the magazine reported that Mr Hoare has said he had not wanted a teacher to take over from Sir Michael Wilshaw as Ofsted’s chief inspector because he was seeking someone who “would listen very closely” and understand “the issues”.

Amanda Spielman, who was recently selected for the job, has been the subject of much scrutiny for the watchdog, with the National Union of Teachers describing the decision to employ someone with no teaching experience as a “sad indictment” of the government’s attitude towards education.

“We have just appointed our new chief inspector and she was my choice for the job,” the Ofsted chairman said at a Teach First conference last week. “I particularly did not want a teacher.”

”I want someone who will look at the data and the facts and understand what the issues are.“

An Ofsted spokesman said: “The Chairman was expressing his personal views. They do not reflect the views of Ofsted or the Chief Inspector.”

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