New Ofsted chief selected

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A founder of one of the country’s top academy chains has been chosen as the next Ofsted chief inspector.

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New Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman

In a move that has attracted criticism from teaching unions, Amanda Spielman was selected for the top role on Friday.

Ms Spielman, chair of exams regulator Ofqual, has never worked as a teacher.

The Department for Education said she had been selected for her ‘impressive breadth of experience across the education sector’.

This includes having helped oversee GCSE and A-level reform and co-founded Ark, now a multi-academy trust which runs 34 academies, and which the DfE credits with having ‘transformed some of the most underperforming schools in the country’.

She was officially named by education secretary Nicky Morgan, who said, ‘I am delighted to recommend Amanda Spielman as Chief Inspector.

‘From helping to set up one of the country’s top academy chains, to acting as a council member for the Institute of Education, to overseeing our ambitious qualification reform programme, Amanda has extensive experience at the frontline of the education system, making her uniquely qualified to take up this important role.

‘I know that she is the right person to deliver the education white paper’s commitment to continue to improve the quality and consistency of Ofsted’s inspections, ensuring that it plays a central role in realising our vision of educational excellence everywhere.

Ms Spielman will replace Sir Michael Wilshaw, who steps down at the end of the year.

Sir Michael was appointed by former education secretary Michael Gove and the two clashed over inspection of academy chains and plans for no notice inspections.

Kevin Courtney, acting general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said, ‘To have as the new chief inspector of Ofsted a person who has no teaching experience and who is heavily implicated in the academy programme, certainly does call into question both their suitability and impartiality for the job.

‘It is a sad indictment of this Government's attitude to education that they place such little value on the experience of teachers and head teachers, that they would not consider such a background necessary for the chief inspector's role.’

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), wished Ms Spielman ‘every success’, but pointed out that she has 'never taught, has never led a school or a major public institution, and as chair of Ofqual she has presided over qualification chaos in secondary schools'.

‘Nicky Morgan will doubtlessly be relieved to have a less “troublesome” chief inspector than Sir Michael Wilshaw, who, although he got many things wrong, was unafraid to challenge the Government’s policy when he thought it was wrong,' said Dr Bousted.

She argued that Ms Spielman’s record is of ‘agreeing with and implementing the Government’s policy’ and that the education secretary ‘wants more of the same’.

Ms Spielman is also a trustee of Stemnet, a network which works with thousands of schools, colleges and employers to inspire young people to study and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and maths.

The Cambridge University graduate is a chartered accountant who worked in investment strategy between 1997 and 2001.

Her appointment is expected to be confirmed by the Privy Council, following a forthcoming meeting of the Education Select Committee. 

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