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Keegan ‘demeaned’ her office with remarks about Ofsted inspectors – Phillipson

Keegan ‘demeaned’ her office with remarks about Ofsted inspectors – Phillipson

Gillian Keegan has “demeaned” her office by saying she would have “probably punched” Ofsted staff, Labour’s shadow education secretary has suggested.

Bridget Phillipson described the Education Secretary’s remarks as “pathetic” and called on the minister to show the profession “a bit of respect”.

Ms Keegan told headteachers on Friday that she would have “probably punched” rude Ofsted staff, based on an account she heard from a school.

Her remarks during the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) conference in Liverpool sparked criticism from union leaders and politicians.

Ms Phillipson told the media at the conference on Saturday: “This is sadly another example of the way in which Gillian Keegan has demeaned her office as Secretary of State and to do so in front of an audience of school leaders, many of whom are themselves Ofsted inspectors and take that responsibility very seriously, is frankly pathetic.

“It’s not behaviour that befits a Secretary of State for Education.

“But sadly, we’ve seen many, many, many examples of such behaviour at a time when we need greater respect for education, where we need parents and government to work together to tackle some of these big challenges that we face, for example around attendance, and the comments from the Secretary of State do absolutely nothing to help that.”

Ms Phillipson added: “She should just get on and do the job and show the profession a bit of respect.”

Speaking about a school she recently visited, Ms Keegan said on Friday: “They told me how their Ofsted experience had gone and I was shocked.

“I was actually shocked.

“I thought: God if I had met these people, I would have probably punched them.

“They were really rude.”

Speaking to the media on Saturday, Ms Phillipson also criticised a pro-Palestine activist who defaced a painting of Lord Arthur Balfour at Trinity College at the University of Cambridge.

She said: “It is completely wrong, totally unacceptable.

“And I would hope and expect that they will face consequences as a result of their actions.

“I don’t believe that we should be a country where we see actions like that.

“There is an important role for legitimate protest, for peaceful protest, that does not represent what I regard as an acceptable form of protest.”

A Government source said: “It’s typical of Labour to play party politics, to hide the fact they have no plan for education.

“Under Labour in Wales a generation of children are being failed.

“Welsh teacher numbers are in decline, they have the worst education standards of any country in the UK and indeed lower than the OECD average.

“Under the Conservatives nearly 90% of schools are now good or outstanding, up from just 68% under Labour.

“We’ve rocketed up the international league tables in English, maths and science, making us one of the top performing countries in the world.

“Our plan to give every child a world class education is working.

“Labour have no plan and would take us back to square one.”