Five reasons why MPs have rejected Amanda Spielman for the top job at Ofsted

In a highly unusual move, the Commons Education Select Committee has failed to approve the government’s preferred candidate for chief inspector

Amanda Spielman was expected to be formally recognised as the next head of Ofsted following her appearance in front of MPs last week.

But the committee has opposed the government’s decision to recommend her as the preferred candidate to take over from Sir Michael Wilshaw as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector (HMCI).

Here are five reasons the committee gave for its decision:

1. She lacked passion

The committee said Ms Spielman did not demonstrate the “passion for the role that we would have hoped for”. It said MPs were concerned that, when asked why she wanted the job, she did not refer to the chief inspector’s role in raising standards and improving the lives of children and young people.

“We consider these to be the fundamental purposes of the job but in the session Ms Spielman offered little evidence that she saw them as her primary motivations,” the committee said.

2. She lacked broader experience

While Ms Spielman has gained experience of secondary education through her work at academy chain Ark and exam regulator Ofqual, she did not convince the committee that she had a clear understanding of the other aspects of the “complex role” of HMCI.

The committee listed these areas as:

  • Early years.
  • Primary education.
  • Children’s services.
  • Child protection.
  • Looked-after children.
  • Special educational needs and disability (SEND).
  • Further education.
  • The educational support role for which local authorities are inspected.

3. Concerns over building bridges

The committee said it felt that Ms Spielman did not appear to recognise the importance of building bridges with the professions inspected by Ofsted. While it agreed frontline teaching experience was not “necessarily a requirement” for the job, it was “vital” the chief inspector could “carry the confidence” of those working in education, children’s services and skills.

4. The buck stops with Ofsted

When it came to children’s services, the committee said it expected Ms Spielman to acknowledge that Ofsted would be held to account if it failed to spot “systemic failure”. It said it was “deeply troubled” by her statement that “you cannot say that the buck stops with Ofsted” on child protection.

5. No clarity

The committee said it did not leave the session with a “clear sense” of how Ms Spielman would go beyond Ofsted’s mission statement to translate it into practice or of the “direction she saw Ofsted taking under her leadership”.

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow TES on Twitter and like TES on Facebook

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInGoogle GmailShare