Toby Salt steps down as AQA chief executive

Exam board chief quits after two years at the helm, citing family and health reasons

toby salt

Toby Salt has stepped down as chief executive of exam board AQA owing to health and family reasons.


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Mark Bedlow, previously director of delivery at AQA, has been appointed interim CEO of AQA.

A new post of interim deputy CEO has been created during this transition period to which Roddy Gillespie has been appointed. Mr Gillespie will combine this role with that of director of qualifications and markets.

A recruitment process to appoint a permanent CEO, either from inside or outside the organisation, will take place. 

Professor Salt said: “After three summer series with AQA and 30 years in various leadership roles across education, I have made the difficult decision to step down as CEO and to start preparing for my retirement, which is only a few years away.

“There are two reasons for this decision. Firstly, I have recently received a health diagnosis which, although serious, is not life-threatening. Secondly, my wife has recently secured a promotion and wants her chance to focus more on her career. This is only fair as she has spent most of my career ensuring that our children and family responsibilities come first. I need to step down so she can step up.

“I remain committed to AQA which is why I am delighted Mark has been appointed and that I will play an advisory role to ensure a smooth transition and to further support the organisation.”

Mr Bedlow said: “I am really looking forward to being interim CEO of such a great organisation. I am passionate about fair qualifications and assessments, and the opportunities they give students to reach their full potential.”

Professor Salt became chief executive at AQA, England's biggest school exam board, in September 2017.

He joined the board from Ormiston Academies Trust (OAT) – where he had been chief executive since 2012 – to replace Andrew Hall who retired August 2017.

Professor Salt started work at AQA in July 2017 as CEO designate to allow for a transition period.

Justin van Wijngaarden, Chair of AQA’s board of trustees, said: “Toby has led AQA with great success, guiding it through a period of significant system reform. Under his direction, AQA has been well-positioned to continue delivering its major programmes of work and, most importantly, to continue providing accurate and fair assessments and results to students. The board is delighted Toby will continue supporting AQA in an advisory capacity.”

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