After a rather strange interview with Newsnight in which the Ofsted chief argued that Michael Gove had blocked no-notice inspections in 2012, Sir Michael Wilshaw has this afternoon backed down. The Education department has issued this statement:
‘The Secretary of State and the Chief Inspector have today discussed the issue of no-notice inspections. The Chief Inspector confirmed that the Education Secretary did not ask Ofsted to halt its plans for no-notice inspections in 2012. Ofsted took the decision after considering the response to their consultation.
‘The Secretary of State yesterday commissioned the Chief Inspector to examine the practicalities of extending the use of no-notice inspections, so that any school can expect an unannounced visit. Both look forward to working together to implementing this important reform.’
So this is another attempt to close down a row on another front over extremism in schools and the best form of oversight. It has enabled Labour to argue that the Education Secretary likes to cross a road to pick a fight, but the speedy end to this stand-off at least means the political row about this issue looks to be entering its last days.
However, there is a question about the working relationship between these two men. Sources tell me that tensions between the two men have been rising recently, so even though Gove appears to have shut down (and won) this row, he may have more problems on the way in the future.