Exclusive: Nicky Morgan aides circulate ‘desperate’ letter to generate support for Amanda Spielman

Ministers are circulating a letter in a bid to drum up support for the beleaguered Amanda Spielman, who was rejected by MPs to become the next Ofsted chief inspector, TES has learnt.

The Commons education select committee today opposed the nomination of Ms Spielman, citing that she lacked the “vision and passion” for the top job at the watchdog.

Education secretary Nicky Morgan issued a statement in support of her preferred candidate, stating that she was “surprised and disappointed” by the committee’s decision.

Ms Morgan added that she chose Ms Spielman for the role because she had proven to be a “highly effective leader”.

TES has since been leaked a letter, which is being circulated by Ms Morgan’s aides, in an attempt to garner support for the chair of Ofqual.

The letter, which is being signed by various stakeholders, reads:

Dear Secretary of State

We fully support Amanda Spielman as the next Chief Inspector. She is a strong and talented leader who, through her leadership at Ark and Ofqual, has shown her commitment to driving improvement for children. We believe Amanda will provide the clear leadership needed for the next phase of reform across the whole of Ofsted’s remit. We are confident that Amanda is suited to the role.

Signed x, y, z

But the correspondence has attracted stinging criticism from teachers’ leaders who believe the DfE should listen to the MPs decision.

Kevin Courtney, acting general secretary of the NUT, branded the government’s education policies as “rapidly becoming a parody”.

“It beggars belief that the DfE’s response to the rejection of Nicky Morgan’s preferred candidate for HMCI by the Education Select Committee – following a considered assessment of her credentials for the job – is to circulate a petition in her support,” Mr Courtney said.

“The old adage, ‘when you are in a hole, stop digging’ comes to mind. The DfE’s response would be laughable if we were not talking about children’s education.”

The decision to circulate a letter “smacked of desperation”, Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL, added.

“It has absolutely no part in the process,” Dr Bousted said. “It is with great regret that Amanda Spielman has been deemed unsuitable for the role by the committee. But the position of HMCI is a very sensitive, very high profile one. You have to be sure that the chief inspector will be a safe pair of hands.”

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