Warning that Spielman will hit Ofqual's teacher cred

'Parachuting' Ofsted chief into Ofqual will make 'absolute mockery' of exam watchdog's independence, says teaching union

Amy Gibbons

Ofsted, led by chief inspector Amanda Spielman, will visit FE providers from 28 September 2020

The "parachuting in" of Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman to help manage the exams crisis aftermath will further exacerbate Ofqual's "image problem" with teachers and heads, the UK's biggest education union has warned.

The decision to bring in the Ofsted chief inspector to chair a new committee of the Ofqual board, following the resignation of chief regulator Sally Collier, will make an "absolute mockery" of the exam watchdog's independence, according to the NEU teaching union.

Tes revealed this afternoon that Ofqual chief regulator Sally Collier is standing down following the chaos of this summer's GCSE and A-level results.

Exclusive: Ofqual chief Sally Collier standing down

Sally Collier: The outsider who has the ultimate insider’s job

Results chaos: U-turn will mean A-level and GCSE teacher grades stand

The news followed Ofqual's decision to ditch its standardisation process and use teacher-assessed grades for GCSEs and A levels in England, where these were higher than the regulator's calculated results.

Ofqual and the GCSE and A-level results 'fiasco' 

Ms Collier is to be replaced by her immediate predecessor at Ofqual, Dame Glenys Stacey, who will be acting chief regulator until December.

Dame Glenys will have support from the Ofsted chief inspector, who was Ofqual chair during Dame Glenys' previous spell at the exams watchdog.

Ms Spielman will chair a new committee of the Ofqual board, including "one or more" current board members, to oversee the work of Ofqual to the end of the year.

If required, Ofsted will provide additional staff to support Ofqual during the autumn.

Kevin Courtney, NEU joint-general secretary, warned that the exams watchdog "already had an image problem" among teachers and heads.

"Someone had to take responsibility for the exams fiasco, but the issues run far deeper than the actions of one chief executive," he said.

"Sally Collier had no option but to follow through [former education secretary] Michael Gove's reforms of GCSEs and A levels, which set up many of the problems of 2020.

"We have no sure way of knowing where the balance of fault lies, but we can be quite certain that [education secretary] Gavin Williamson gave direction to Ofqual that there should not be grade inflation and all candidates should get a fair grade. He must have known that both those directions are incompatible.

"Ofqual already had an image problem amongst teachers and heads, but the parachuting in of Amanda Spielman from Ofsted makes an absolute mockery of Ofqual's purported independence."

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, has also responded by saying that Ms Collier is not solely to blame for the failure of Ofqual's grading model, and that ministers still have questions to answer.

"We have written to the secretary of state for education to formally request that he commission an immediate independent review to rapidly establish what happened and what went wrong," he said.

"We believe that public confidence has been so badly damaged that full transparency is essential."

Ofqual said in a statement: "The Ofqual board supports Sally in this decision, and thanks her for her leadership and service over the past four years, which has included overseeing the successful introduction of an entirely new set of GCSEs and A levels, and a new grading system."

Ofsted has been approached for comment.

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @tweetsbyames

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