MPs approve new Ofqual chief but note her lack of exams knowledge

New chief regulator Sally Collier (pictured) has ‘extensive experience’ in civil service but lacks knowledge of exams reform, education committee says

MPs have approved the appointment of Ofqual’s next chief regulator, Sally Collier, but noted her lack of knowledge of the exams system she will oversee.

A report by the Commons education select committee, published today, says: “Her knowledge of the current reforms to GCSEs and A levels was somewhat lacking.”

The committee also found that Ms Collier had “demonstrated a fair appreciation of the role of an independent regulator” but “did not, in our view, give sufficient voice to the weight of responsibility borne by a chief regulator.”

She has, however, had 20 years’ experience in the civil service and “extensive experience of leading organisations through periods of reform”. Ms Collier had also “demonstrated the wider professional competence required in order to lead a large and complex organisation”, the MPs say.

But she had acknowledged that “she has some way to go in order to acquire the specific professional competence in terms of the qualifications and curriculum landscape”.

Ms Collier was one of 13 people who had applied for the post and one of four interviewed. But she was the only candidate deemed “appointable”.

‘Steep learning curve’

The MPs say Ms Collier had been unable to answer questions on subject comparability when questioned at a hearing last week, and had declined to give her views on several areas of the GCSE and A-level reforms that schools are grappling with. She had acknowledged that she was on a “steep learning curve”, the report says.

“We recommend that Ms Collier takes steps to rapidly acquire the specific professional competence in terms of qualifications and assessment,” the MPs add.

The MPs note that Ms Collier had said that one of her top priorities would be to make sure Ofqual was trusted by the education sector.

Since 2014 Ms Collier has been chief executive of the Crown Commercial Service, a Cabinet Office executive agency that arranges the joint procurement of goods and services for the public sector. She has worked in the field of procurement and government commerce since 2001.

She gained three A levels at grades ABB and a degree in French and German from Salford University.

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