Nicky Morgan is to press ahead with the appointment of Amanda Spielman as the next Ofsted chief inspector, ignoring MPs concerns that she lacked the ‘passion and vision’ for the role.
Earlier today, the commons education select committee issued a report opposing the appointment of Ms Spielman, stating that they were “unconvinced” as to whether she was the right person for the job.
But in a significant snub to the panel of MPs, the education secretary has stated that she remains “100 per cent confident” in her decision and will continue with her appointment.
It comes as TES revealed that the education secretary’s aides had circulated a letter in a bid to generate support for Ms Spielman.
Ms Morgan said she is “disappointed” that the committee “underestimated Amanda’s vision, focus and leadership style”.
In a letter to Neil Carmichael, chair of the education committee, Ms Morgan writes that the committee’s members “appeared to misunderstand the reality of the role of Her Majesty’s chief inspector”.
The letter states:
- that the committee was wrong to question whether the role of HMCI was similar to that of a chief executive officer, adding that Amanda’s leadership and management skills have been illustrated in her previous roles;
- the committee’s queries reflected a “misconception” of the role. “It is not a requirement of the role to have prior understanding of all the sectors that Ofsted inspects”;
- the committee’s report is “factually wrong in suggesting that Ofsted is accountable for failures in child protection”.
Ms Morgan adds that she was “concerned” that the committee was looking for a “narrow and stereotypical” representation of leadership.
“In recruiting the next HMCI, I am not seeking what one Committee member described as a ‘crusader’ during the hearing,” Ms Morgan writes.
Instead, the education secretary is looking for someone with “a relentless determination to raise standards, but also a rigorous and clear-sighted leader for Ofsted”.
Ms Morgan also dropped a strong hint that the government was looking to move away from the current chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw’s more combative style.
“I am sure that Amanda will generate fewer headlines than her predecessor, but I also know that she will not shy away from challenging Government, nor offering frank assessments of the performance of our educational institutions,” she adds.
Malcolm Trobe, interim general secretary of the ASCL, welcomed the move.
“We were surprised that the education select committee decided that it was unable to support her appointment and we do not agree with its conclusions,” Mr Trobe said. “In our view, Amanda’s intellect, knowledge and experience make her highly suitable for a role which is effectively that of a chief executive officer overseeing a large, complex organisation with a wide range of responsibilities.”