Ofsted chief: MP vetting would have ruled me out of job

22nd January 2010 at 00:00

Christine Gilbert would not have applied for her job as chief schools inspector if she had had to be interviewed for the post by MPs, it emerged this week.

Ms Gilbert said "issues of confidentiality" would have prevented her from going for the role under new rules which make it one of four major education appointments subject to parliamentary scrutiny.

"I would have been very unlikely to have pursued an application for this post if I had had to be confirmed by the committee looking at me and asking me questions," the chief inspector told the Commons schools committee.

The revelation came as Schools Secretary Ed Balls clashed with the same committee over why it had not been allowed to vet the appointment of Kathleen Tattersall to head Ofqual, the other major education regulator.

Committee members were already smarting because their view that Maggie Atkinson was unsuitable for the role of Children's Commissioner was ignored in the autumn.

In a heated committee hearing this week, which saw Mr Balls angrily deny that he had used "sleight of hand" to prevent the MPs vetting applicants for the Ofqual job, members questioned whether the pre-appointment hearings were a "waste of time".

Barry Sheerman, committee chairman, then revealed that Ms Gilbert had told members the pre-appointment hearings would have put her off the Ofsted job.

The chief inspector made her comments to the MPs in 2008. Asked why questioning from the committee would have put her off applying for the job, Ms Gilbert said: "Because there are issues of confidentiality when you apply for a post and all sorts of things related to that.

"That is a personal view, but I think it would be common across my profession."

But this week David Bell, Department for Children Schools and Families permanent secretary, told the committee he thought a grilling by MPs was a "reasonable part of the (appointment) process".

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