New chief for independent schools watchdog after revamp

Vanessa Ward to take on new joint chief inspector and CEO role following shake-up at the private schools inspectorate

Catherine Lough

Private schools: Vanessa Ward has been named as the new boss of the Independent Schools Inspectorate

A former Ofsted inspector has been appointed to lead the Independent Schools Inspectorate, following a shake-up of its leadership structure during the Covid lockdown earlier this year.

Vanessa Ward will lead the private schools' inspectorate in a new role as chief inspector and chief executive officer. Former chief inspector Kate Richards stood down in September after the inspection body said it was reviewing its leadership structure after it had "reflected on the impact of Covid-19 on our sector and the suspension of routine inspections by the government".

News: Independent schools chief inspector goes in shake-up

'A fresh pair of eyes': The private schools inspector

Background: Ofsted 'needs more access' to private school inspections

Ms Ward was previously an inspector at Ofsted, and was also head at The Tiffin Girls' School, a high-performing state school in south-west London.

She practised as a solicitor before retraining as a teacher, and, after joining Ofsted, she led inspections in both state and private schools.

Ms Ward has also worked as an education consultant at Forward Education since 2016, working with private schools, primary and secondary academies and maintained schools, special schools, multi-academy trusts and international schools.

A new independent school inspection framework

Due to take up the post on 1 February 2021, she said: I am excited to be joining ISI in this newly merged role, which embeds the fundamental connection between high-quality inspection and school self-improvement. 

"I look forward to leading the organisation in fulfilling its purpose of enabling children to be safe, well-educated and thrive.

"Our priorities will be to embed ISI’s clear strategy and values; deepen understanding of how inspection adds value; learn from the challenges of the past year; and develop ISI’s new inspection framework through strong relationships and in consultation with all of our stakeholders "
Christine Swabey, chair of the ISI board, said: “I am delighted to welcome Vanessa to ISI as our new chief inspector and chief executive.

"Her passion for leading change focused on outcomes for children and her depth of experience in school leadership and inspection make her ideally suited to take ISI forward at a crucial stage.

"Vanessa will provide overall leadership to the team at ISI, including the inspector workforce, as well as providing a single point of focus for the recently restructured independent board and our stakeholders. We wish Vanessa well in her new role.”


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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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