MPs reject appointment of Amanda Spielman as Ofsted chief inspector, citing lack of ‘vision and passion’

Commons Education Select Committee left ‘unconvinced’ by Ms Spielman’s suitability for top Ofsted job

MPs have rejected the government’s preferred candidate to become the next Ofsted chief inspector.

In a hugely controversial move, the Commons Education Select Committee has decided to oppose the appointment of Amanda Spielman as the next head of Ofsted.

The committee said it remained “unconvinced” as to whether Ms Spielman was the right person for the job.

Ms Spielman, who is currently chair of the exams regulator Ofqual, appeared in front of the committee last week in what was expected to be a formality before being officially approved.

Significant concerns

But the cross-party panel of MPs said that they could not support the move, stating that they were left with “significant concerns” about Ms Spielman’s suitability for the post of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector.

Chair Conservative MP Neil Carmichael, admitted that it was “unusual” for a government appointee to be opposed, but said that it was the job of the committee to hold the government to account.

“The government’s preferred candidate, Amanda Spielman, has a broad range of experience but failed to demonstrate to us the vision and passion we would expect from a prospective HMCI,” he said in a statement.

“The new HMCI will face the task of leading Ofsted to raise standards and improve the lives of children and young people, and we were unconvinced that Ms Spielman would do this effectively,” he added.

Vast scope and complexity

Mr Carmichael said that while Ms Spielman had experience in secondary education, she lacked the suitable understanding of other sectors including early years, primary, further education and children’s services.

“Ms Spielman’s responses on child protection were particularly troubling and did not inspire confidence that she grasped the importance of Ofsted’s inspections in preventing children being held at risk through service failure,” he said. “As a committee, we did not leave the session with the view that Amanda Spielman was prepared for the vast scope and complexity of this important role.”

Surprised and disappointed

A letter has been circulated among supportive stakeholders in a bid to generate support for the beleagured Ms Spielman, which is believed to have been issued by the DfE.

In a statement responding to the committee’s concerns education secretary Nicky Morgan said she was “surprised and disappointed”.

“Ms Spielman has a proven track record as a leader and huge experience in the education sector having helped found ARK, one of the most successful academy chains in the country and worked as the chair of Ofqual,” she said.

“I chose Ms Spielman as my preferred candidate because I believe she will be a highly effective leader who will be unafraid to do the right thing and where necessary challenge schools, local authorities and government where education and social care services are not meeting the standards our children deserve.

“I will now consider their report and respond in due course.”

Ms Spielman wrote to the committee this week in a bid to change their minds, stating that she is “both able and motivated to make the very best of this very important role, working for the benefit of every child in this country”.

It is up to Ms Morgan to decide whether to accept or reject the recommendation of the committee, but if she rejects it, she must give a reason why.

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