Ex-private school inspection chief to be Ofsted chair

EXCLUSIVE: Christine Ryan, a former Independent Schools Inspectorate chief, expected to be appointed as chair of Ofsted

John Roberts

Christine Ryan, the new chair of Ofsted.

A former chief of the Independent Schools Inspectorate is being lined up to be the next chair of Ofsted, Tes understands.

Christine Ryan, who led the Independent Schools Inspectorate for 12 years, is set to be appointed by the Department for Education to be the next chair of Ofsted.

Insiders have suggested that the appointment is being made as part of an attempt by the DfE to keep a tighter rein on Ofsted’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman.

Profile: Christine Ryan

BackgroundPrivate school concern over Ofsted-style inspections

TensionDfE set to intervene in Ofsted row

The £46,800-a-year role involves advising the government on the performance of the chief inspector and monitoring the strategic performance of Ofsted to "ensure that it delivers services in line with relevant government policy".

Tension between Ofsted and DfE

The role of Ofsted's chair, which is appointed by the Department for Education, has been the source of tension between the two organisations in the past.

When Michael Gove, as education secretary, removed Baroness Sally Morgan from the role in 2014, Sir Michael Wilshaw, then Ofted chief inspector, spoke out to say that he believed she should have stayed in the post. 

After it emerged that Mr Gove had decided not to renew her contract, Baroness Morgan launched an outspoken assault on the government’s reform agenda – and the perceived hostility towards Ofsted emanating from the DfE at the time.

The department began the recruiting process for a new chair in March of this year and is due to make an announcement later this month. The current chair of Ofsted, Julius Weinberg, was appointed in 2017.

During Ms Spielman’s time as chief inspector there has been some tension between the inspectorate and the Department for Education over the impact of Ofsted's new inspection framework, which has placed greater emphasis on the curriculum and less on exam results.

Ofsted has declined to comment on the new appointment.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We have launched a recruitment process to appoint a new chair of Ofsted following the end of the current chair’s term.

“The appointment will be conducted in line with the code of practice for public appointments and will be overseen by the Office of the Commission for Public Appointments.”

The department said it did not comment on speculation when asked if Ms Ryan had been chosen.

Ms Ryan – a former state sector teacher and Ofsted inspector who left school without qualifications – was chief inspector of the ISI for 12 years before standing down in 2017.

In 2014, Ms Ryan was reported to have told an audience of private school heads that the prospect of the government bringing in Ofsted-style inspections for private schools meant that the independence of her inspectorate was "under significant and immediate threat”.




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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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