Wilshaw warns teachers against reality TV school shows

By Sean Coughlan
Education correspondent

  • Published
Sir Michael WilshawImage source, PA
Image caption,
Teacher recruitment remains a "burning issue", says Sir Michael Wilshaw

Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw has warned head teachers they should refuse to take part in television reality shows.

Speaking to the ASCL head teachers' conference, he says such programmes give a "distorted" impression of modern state schools.

Sir Michael said such shows "provide great TV but little reality".

"All they do is reinforce the caricatures of comprehensive schools," said the Ofsted boss.

"They inevitably focus on the sensational, at the cost of presenting a balanced picture of what goes on in our schools," Sir Michael told head teachers at their annual conference in Birmingham.

"The spotlight always falls on the lippy kid and the newly qualified teacher in trouble and gives a distorted view of our state system.

"All they do is reinforce the caricatures of comprehensive schools promoted by those who don't understand them, would like to get rid of them and return to selection."

'Challenging and outspoken'

The Ofsted chief's comments were against a background of warnings from head teachers about teacher shortages and the difficulty in recruiting staff.

"Recruitment is a burning issue and all of us, including the Department for Education, have got to face it head on," said Sir Michael.

He warned that difficulties in recruiting teachers could create a "two-tier education system".

"More and more, we see the best schools in the most popular areas snapping up the best teachers while underperforming schools in poorer or more isolated areas are facing an increasingly desperate struggle to find good candidates.

"They are trapped in a vicious cycle - unable to recruit because they are struggling, but unable to improve because they cannot recruit."

This will be Sir Michael's last speech to this annual gathering of head teachers, before he steps down as chief inspector later this year.

He said that if he had been "challenging and outspoken" it had been because of his determination to raise standards in schools, particularly for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

"I am desperate to see standards rising in all our schools and for every child to have the chance of a decent education that will set them up for life in an increasingly uncertain and competitive world," said Sir Michael.