DfE permanent secretary Jonathan Slater sacked

Top Department for Education official becomes second high-profile departure following exams grading crisis

Claudia Civinini

Jonathan Slater

The Department for Education's permanent secretary Jonathan Slater is to stand down on Tuesday, it has been announced today.

The departure of the DfE's most senior official follows controversy over exams grading, as well as over school openings last term. According to today's statement, his leaving comes "in advance of the end of his tenure in spring 2021". His last day coincides with the first day that schools reopen. 

Mr Slater's move has come at the request of the prime minister Boris Johnson, the government has made clear. It follows yesterday's resignation of Ofqual chief regulator Sally Collier.

Exclusive: Ofqual chief Sally Collier standing down

Related: DfE appoints new senior official to manage exams crisis

U-turnCentre assessed grades to be used for GCSEs and A levels

“The prime minister has concluded that there is a need for fresh official leadership at the Department for Education. Jonathan Slater has therefore agreed that he will stand down on 1 September,” the government statement reads. 

The current interim second permanent secretary, Susan Acland-Wood, will take over as acting permanent secretary while a permanent successor to replace Jonathan Slater will be appointed “in the coming weeks”, according to the announcement.

Jonathan Slater stands down after 35 years of public service, the last four of which were spent as permanent secretary at the DfE.

Commenting on the news, Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “We now have a second public servant who appears to have fallen on their sword, following the departure of Sally Collier, the chief regulator of exams watchdog Ofqual, earlier this week.

“It is abundantly clear that things have not gone well at the Department for Education and Ofqual, culminating in the debacle over this year’s GCSE and A-level grades. But it is pretty unsavoury that civil servants appear to be carrying the can while ministers remain unscathed.

“The grading fiasco really does need to be resolved by a proper independent review of what went wrong and we have written to the Secretary of State for Education to request that this takes place immediately. We think this is a more productive way forward.”


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Claudia Civinini

Claudia Civinini

Find me on Twitter @claudiacivinini

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