Best headteachers are ‘quite odd people’, Ofsted chief inspector says
The best headteachers are “often quite odd people”, the chief inspector of Ofsted has said, as he advises budding future leaders: “Strange is sometimes good”.
Sir Michael Wilshaw, the former principal of the acclaimed Mossbourne Community Academy in Hackney, London, warned teachers they must not be afraid to be “slightly maverick”.
In a speech at the Future Leaders conference, he told them to be “courageous and tough”, “a warrior and a battler” and to “do things out of the ordinary”.
“Don’t necessarily be conformist,” he said, adding: “strange is sometimes good. The best heads are often quite odd people.
“Orthodoxy doesn’t always produce results. Be prepared to question and think outside the box.”
Sir Michael, who was speaking to aspiring young teachers hoping to be promoted into leadership roles, advised would-be heads they should “”challenge the established structures around you.
“Just because systems worked in the past does not mean that they will work in the future,” he said.
He illustrated his point using an example of a former colleague who had caught pupils misbehaving on school buses by donning a disguise.
He said: “This head used to dress up in a disguise, put a false beard on a floppy hat and dark glasses.”
Once on a bus with suspected naughty children, he said, the head would “gradually disrobe to reveal his true identity.”
Sir Michael, who is now the chief inspector for Ofsted, has previously likened the role of a good headteachers to a Clint Eastwood character, saying they should not be afraid to exercise their power.
Last year, he told an audience: “Being a headteacher is all about being the long warrior, fighting for righteousness, fighting the good fight.”
A spokeswoman for Ofsted said: “He was talking to aspiring headteachers and was hoping to inspire them.
“He was talking about heads not feeling like they always have to stick to certain regimented ideas; they can be creative.”
Sir Michael, who has been called a “controversial figure” after teaching unions opposed some of his ideas since joining Ofsted, is the former executive principal of Mossbourne Academy in Hackney.
The inner-city school achieved 86 per cent A* to C grades at GCSE last year and received 1,500 applications for 180 new places.