Scrapping the ‘outstanding’ grade and inspecting academy trusts: Seven key thoughts from Ofsted’s new chief inspector

Amanda Spielman, ministers’ preferred candidate to take the helm at the schools watchdog, tells MPs she doesn’t think her lack of teaching experience is a problem

Amanda Spielman, the preferred candidate to take the helm at Ofsted, told MPs today that she might scrap the watchdog’s “outstanding” judgement and expand its inspections of multi-academy trusts. Here are the main points from this morning’s session at the education select committee:

1. She might scrap the “outstanding” grade

Asked what she thought about the Ofsted “outstanding” judgement she said: “I’m quite uncomfortable about some of the effects you see it having in the system, I have to say.” Pressed on whether she would scrap the judgement she said: “It’s something I would like to see fully discussed.”

2. She thinks it is “highly likely” Ofsted will expand its inspections of multi academy trusts (MATs)

“I can’t imagine it would be possible in a few years’ time to have an inspections system that doesn’t include MATs,” she told MPs. “Over time I think it is highly likely we will end up with a multi layered inspections model and for me that would be a good development.”

3. She doesn’t think her lack of teaching experience is a problem

Challenged about her lack of teaching experience, Ms Spielman said: “It’s something that will always be there, that I haven’t been a teacher… I have to make sure the team as a whole does have plenty of experience, I really don’t see that as a real impediment to doing the job”.

Pressed by MPs on how she would build bridges with teachers despite having no teaching experience, she said: “I don’t see it as a problem, I see it as part of making sure the way Ofsted is structured and managed makes sure the right skills are in place.”

4. She only applied for the role after reading in a newspaper that she was a potential candidate

Ms Spielman told MPs she read an article in the Sunday Times that said the next chief inspector could be recruited from America. The article also said her name was in the ring for the post. “I said, it’s absolute nonsense and I’m not thinking about it,” she told MPs. “[In response] a couple of people said, why wasn’t I thinking about it? One said if you were a man you wouldn’t have thought twice.”

5. She won’t be the nation’s headteacher

“There’s been a clear transition away from telling teachers how to do their job …There’s clear agreement that’s not what’s wanted,” she said.

Ms Spielman said she wanted to make sure that “overall Ofsted adds up to a constructive force for system improvement” but that “it’s not about being a superhead”.

6. She says she’ll stand up to the government

Ms Spielman insisted she had done this at Ofqual, by persuading ministers to rethink plans to have a single exam board and to delay the introduction of GCSE reforms.

7. She’ll have a “different style” to her predecessor

Ms Spielman told MPs she would have a “different style” to the outspoken current chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw. “I have no fear of saying anything,” she said. But, she added: “I do want to make sure it’s absolutely grounded in evidence … I don’t want to get drawn into expressing personal opinions.”

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