Ofqual will have a full set of teeth

27th February 2009 at 00:00

In last week's edition, you reported the comments of two of the awarding bodies about the Ofqual legislation, and called in your editorial for the new legislation to give Ofqual "a real set of teeth". This is exactly what the Bill will do. There are three issues in particular which need correction.

First, the Bill will give Ofqual the powers it needs to regulate effectively. In particular, it will be able to require awarding bodies to take a consistent approach to setting standards, and if necessary it will be able to step in and direct an awarding body, and enforce that direction in the courts.

Second, Ofqual will be truly independent of ministers. That is fundamental to its credibility and effectiveness. It will report to Parliament, not to ministers. And, contrary to what you say, the chair - the chief regulator of qualifications and examinations - will be a Crown appointment (as is the head of Ofsted), and, once established, the Ofqual board will appoint the chief executive.

Finally, ministers' ability to determine the specification of qualifications will be restricted to minimum requirements about the content of qualifications. So ministers will be able to say, for example, that someone must show knowledge of Shakespeare to secure a GCSE English - that is a matter of policy. But Ofqual will have the final say on regulatory matters, which are central to maintenance of standards, such as how qualifications are assessed and graded.

We have worked with Ofqual in its interim form as we have prepared the detail of the bill, and they have not been shy to tell us when they have thought we have got things wrong.

So when the chair, Kathleen Tattersall, wrote to me to express confidence in the legislation, I took great reassurance from that. You and your readers should, too.

Jim Knight, Schools Minister.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today