Ex-Ofsted boss: Schools must remain open

·1-min read
Bookings have opened for children aged 12 to 15 in England to get their second Covid-19 jab (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Wire)
Bookings have opened for children aged 12 to 15 in England to get their second Covid-19 jab (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Wire)

The former head of Ofsted on Monday said it was vital schools remain open “at all costs” as he revealed he would be coming out of retirement to help a London school struggling with staff absences.

Sir Michael Wilshaw will teach history to pupils in south London because so many teachers are expected to be off sick with Covid in the new year.

It comes as fears grow that schools could face disruption until Easter due to staff absences, with mock exams delayed and children forced to stay at home.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has issued a call-out to former teachers to return to the classroom, urging them to “come forward and join the national mission” to keep schools open.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sir Michael said the pandemic has increased inequality, and this summer’s GCSE results showed that those pupils who were behind fell even further behind, and those who were ahead advanced even further.

He said: “We have got to keep schools open whatever and if that means people like me going back into the classroom, so be it.” Ex-teachers are being asked to register with supply agencies, which will manage the supply and demand to ensure schools do not need to close due to lack of staff.

But Sir Michael said he doubted retired teachers will sign up to the agencies, but would approach their former schools instead. He added that said this would be cheaper than going through a teacher agency.

Mr Zahawi said: “I am asking any teachers no longer in the profession to come forward ... with cases of Omicron increasing, we must make sure schools and colleges have the teachers available to remain open for face-to-face education.”

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