Amanda Spielman confirmed as new Ofsted chief inspector despite MPs' concerns

19th July 2016 at 17:17
Amanda Spielman Ofsted chief inspector
Ms Spielman, whose candidacy was in doubt after Nicky Morgan's departure, will begin the role in the new year

Amanda Spielman has been approved by the Privy Council to become Ofsted’s next chief inspector – despite MPs raising concerns about her lack of awareness of the FE sector.

Former education secretary Nicky Morgan had put forward Ms Spielman to be the successor to Sir Michael Wilshaw as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector (HMCI) when he steps down at the end of the year.

However, earlier this month, members of the Commons Education Select Committee rejected her candidacy on the grounds that they were not persuaded that Ms Spielman, currently chair of exams regulator Ofqual, had a "clear understanding" of FE, or that she was able to deliver the required level of "vision and passion".

Committee chair Neil Carmichael said Ms Spielman "failed to demonstrate to us the vision and passion we would expect from a prospective HMCI", and had failed ot persuade them that she had a "clear understanding" of areas of education outside the secondary school phase.

Ms Spielman's candidacy has been in doubt since the appointment of Justine Greening as the new education secretary last week – the first former sixth-form college student to hold the post. 

Sector 'reassured'

Despite the committee’s refusal to back Ms Spielman, leaders in the FE sector welcomed Ms Spielman’s candidacy. Association of Colleges chief executive Martin Doel said he had been "reassured by Ms Spielman’s comments on further education" when she appeared before the committee.

"While there may have been concerns that she has never been a teacher, we have had a series of chief inspectors at Ofsted who had little or no experience of further education. In this context, Ms Spielman’s lack of detailed knowledge did not seem problematic," he added.

At the time, Mark Dawe, chief executive of the Association of Employers and Learning Providers, said: "As for the committee’s desire for passion, some of the previous chief inspectors have had this in abundance and if misdirected, it’s not always a good thing," he said. "We hear protestations that Ofsted doesn’t make policy but the passion has sometimes in our view led to overzealous attempts to influence it. 

"Furthermore, it seemed to us that the current chief inspector appeared to allow personal prejudice to interfere with inspection findings when reporting on FE and work based learning in particular." 

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