Ofsted's next chief inspector promises to listen to critics even when it 'hurts'

22nd November 2016 at 14:03
Amanda Spielman Ofsted chief inspector
Amanda Spielman has pledged to listen to 'honest and constructive feedback' in her new role, even if it’s critical of her and her organisation

Amanda Spielman, who will succeed Sir Michael Wilshaw as Ofsted chief inspector in the new year, today described her new role as “the biggest leadership challenge” of her career.

Speaking at the launch of the new charity Ambition School Leadership this morning – which brings together the Future Leaders Trust and Teaching Leaders – the current chair of Ofqual said that she had learned the importance of listening to dissenting voices.

“I have put a lot of effort into listening to voices outside my organisation, even critical ones,” she said. “It’s not easy, sometimes it actually hurts… but it’s always worth doing.

“This is something that I will definitely be carrying on at Ofsted.”

Bumpy road to Ofsted

Ms Spielman’s road to chief inspector has not been smooth.

In July the Commons Education Select Committee controversially rejected her as preferred candidate for the role, saying it remained “unconvinced” as to whether she was the right person for the job.

However, Nicky Morgan, the then education secretary, overruled the committee and confirmed her appointment.

Ms Spielman said one of the most important lessons she had learned about leadership during her career was to “always hold onto a clear sense of organisational purpose”.

“Big foggy ambition doesn’t help anyone,” she said. “No organisation can function without honest and clear purpose, otherwise you end up with something which is not deliverable.”

She said the education profession had not always been successful at “valuing many kinds of skills and expertise”.

However, she said the growth of multi-academy trusts had made it “easier” to integrate back-office services like finance, HR and IT, and specialist skills in areas such as curriculum design, assessment, teacher training and professional development into schools.

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