'The struggle is some schools is, I agree, desparate,' he says. 'But the accumulating evidence grows clearer term by term: inner city schools are improving. With stronger leadership, more effective teaching and teachers and, or course, more support and resources, the corner is being turned in the majority of schools that failed their Ofsted inspections.'
He says the key to raising standards in the most difficult inner-city schools is, essentially, a matter of recruiting and sustaining the best teachers and heads.
'Outstanding men and women do have to be found - and in sufficient numbers,' he says.