Her Majesty's Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw's speech to launch Ofsted's 2015/16 annual report for education, early years and skills.
This is my final Annual Report as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools, Children’s Services and Skills.
Over the past 5 years of my tenure as Chief Inspector and in my 43 years as a teacher and as a head, I have had the pleasure of working with a huge number of great educators who have served this nation’s children and young people extraordinarily well.
I am delighted that many of them are in this room today alongside HMI and other colleagues from Ofsted with whom I have had the honor of working over the last few years.
I am proud to have been Chief Inspector and I am proud of this organization, Ofsted. It has been a privilege to lead an organization that has been one of the major drivers of improvement in education since its inception in 1992.
Those who question whether we need independent inspection have short memories and little perspective. So let me remind them what it was like before the advent of Ofsted.
Standards were far lower than they are today and in our capital city in which we sit, absolutely dire.
I know this because I was a teacher and head in inner London in the 3 terrible decades before Ofsted came into being. London’s schools − like many outside the capital − were failing whole generations of children. Schools like Hackney Downs − the predecessor to my old school Mossbourne − and William Tyndale may have grabbed the headlines, but there were many others that were only a whisker away from gaining similar notoriety.
Since those dark days, greater accountability and much greater political focus have transformed our education system. No, we are not yet world class, but children and young people across the phases are getting a much better deal now than ever before. We know schools improve incrementally and the same is true for our education system as a whole. It is a step-by-step process.
It’s easy to echo the familiar drumbeat of criticism common in much of the press. Comprehensives are invariably ‘bog standard’, classrooms are always in chaos and qualifications are never worth the paper they are written on. But for the most part, those criticisms are simplistic, out of date and frankly wrong.