Corporate men shape future of exams

11th July 2003 at 01:00
Mike Tomlinson joins new QCA board but industrialists with little experience of teaching now dominate it. Warwick Mansell reports

A SWEEPING shake-up of the leadership of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority was completed this week following the appointment of eight new board members.

Mike Tomlinson, the man leading the inquiry into the future of 14-19 education, was the most eye-catching choice for the new 13-member board.

Also among those appointed by Education Secretary Charles Clarke to start work in October was Jim Rose, one of the "three wise men" whose 1992 report for then Conservative education secretary Kenneth Clarke heralded huge changes in primary teaching.

However, the make-up of the new board will be controversial, as it is arguably dominated by industrialists who have little experience of teaching.

The chairman remains Sir Anthony Greener, chairman of the University for Industry and deputy chairman of British Telecom. His new deputy is Sir Richard Greenhalgh, chairman of Unilever and the National College for School Leadership. Two of the other eight appointees are business leaders.

But what will alarm many teachers is that there is now just one representative from a state school on the board: Sue Kirkham, head of Walton high school, Staffordshire.

Ministers will say business expertise is needed to boost work-related learning, identified in last year's five-yearly review as a priority for the QCA and a key element of the Government's 14-19 plans.

However, John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said: "This is very disappointing. You cannot expect the full range of school interests to be represented by one person."

All of those leaving the board, including TES columnist Ted Wragg, are coming to the end of their three-year terms.

The changes conclude a dramatic six months at the QCA, which has undergone a major overhaul in the fall-out from last year's A-level regrading controversy and the five-yearly review.

Ken Boston, chief executive, replaced five of the authority's former nine-person executive, plus 11 of its old team of 28 senior managers. Two committees which advise the board are also being replaced.

Last year, Mr Tomlinson's report into the A-level controversy recommended that all QCA advice to ministers be published, to make the relationship between it and the Department for Education and Skills more transparent.

But a new "memo of understanding" between the two bodies, finalised with no publicity last month, says the QCA can choose whether to publish this advice.

Full list of new board members: www.dfes.gov.ukpnsnewslist.cgi

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