Quango line-up courts controversy

5th September 1997 at 01:00
The Government has not followed its predecessor's practice of packing its education advisory bodies with political sympathisers, but this week's appointments to the new quango with oversight of the curriculum and testing is likely to increase tension over the role of the Chief Inspector of Schools, writes Geraldine Hackett.

The two academics to join the board of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, Professor Ted Wragg of Exeter University's school of education, and Professor Robin Alexander, director of the centre for research in elementary and primary education at Warwick University, are critics of Chris Woodhead, the head of the Office for Standards in Education.

The board is dominated by industrialists, but also includes Dr Philip Hunter, chief education officer of Staffordshire, and Heather Rabbatts, chief executive of the Labour-controlled south London borough of Lambeth. However, the appointment of the two education professors may lead to conflicting advice in the key areas of literacy and numeracy at the centre of the Government's standards drive.

Professor Wragg, in particular, has attacked the inspection system and pokes fun at Mr Woodhead and his pronouncements in the columns of The TES. Professor Wragg is also critical of the Government's policy of "naming and shaming" schools.

The quango comes into existence at the beginning of October and will be chaired by Sir William Stubbs. It replaces two former advisory bodies that separately covered academic and vocational courses. It will have the task of revising the national curriculum and integrating academic and vocational courses for the over-16s.

The appointment of senior industrialists including Ian Mc-Allister, chairman, chief executive and managing director of Ford, and Sir Dominic Cadbury, chairman of Cadbury Schweppes, who will be deputy chairman of the QCA, reflects the fact that the board is responsible for all vocational qualifications, and not just school-based qualifications.

The other members of the board are: Nick Tate, chief executive of QCA: Geoff Ashton, head at Standish Community High School in Wigan; Dr Philip Evans, the only survivor from the board of the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority and head of Bedford School; Pat Lee, head of retail training at Tesco; Pat Morgan-Webb, principal and chief executive of Clarendon College; Anne Duke, head of Southwater infant school in West Sussex; Sir George Quigley, chairman of Ulster Bank.

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