This time last week PSI were sharing reports that Education Secretary Michael Gove and HM Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw were at loggerheads over suggestions the Government may look to reform the schools inspectorate Ofsted. This week the Chair of Ofsted, Baroness Morgan, said she was the victim of a “determined effort from Number 10” to appoint more Tories to senior public positions, after the Department for Education decided not to reappoint Baroness Morgan – a former adviser to Tony Blair – for a second three-year term.
Gove insisted the decision was his, explaining that he was looking to “refresh” Ofsted and insisted that the Government “appoints people on merit”. The row has since intensified, with the BBC reporting that Schools Minister David Laws, the senior Liberal Democrat in the DfE, “is absolutely furious at the blatant attempts by the Tories to politicise Ofsted”. If the furore was not politicised already, then it certainly has been now that Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said that the decision to replace Baroness Morgan will lie with David Laws.
Olly from PSI: Is Ofsted untouchable? The DfE has gone two rounds with the inspectorate and come off worse both times. Speculation suggests that in the first round Gove’s circle was merely sizing Ofsted up but still came away with a bloody nose, while in the second a jab to the head has left them feeling dizzy instead.
The two spars have suggested that the Education Secretary is not content with leaving Ofsted to its own devises, while the respective backlashes indicate an inertia against change. Is this one reform too far for Gove? Cue an imminent Education Select Committee evidence session on the Ofsted Annual Report due this month, which could emerge to be round three.