Amanda Spielman is to take over from Sir Michael Wilshaw as Ofsted’s chief inspector at the end of the year.
Announcing the selection, Nicky Morgan said:
I am delighted to recommend Amanda Spielman as chief inspector.
From helping to set up one of the country’s top academy chains, to acting as a council member for the Institute of Education, to overseeing our ambitious qualification reform programme, Amanda has extensive experience at the front line of the education system, making her uniquely qualified to take up this important role.
I know that she is the right person to deliver the Education White Paper’s commitment to continue to improve the quality and consistency of Ofsted’s inspections, ensuring that it plays a central role in realising our vision of educational excellence everywhere.”
Despite having “extensive experience at the front line of the education system”, news of Spielman’s appointment attracted immediate criticism from some teaching unions for her lack of experience as a teacher or senior leader in a school.
Kevin Courtney, acting general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said:
To have as the new chief inspector of Ofsted a person who has no teaching experience and who is heavily implicated in the academy programme, certainly does call into question both their suitability and impartiality for the job.
It is a sad indictment of this Government’s attitude to education that they place such little value on the experience of teachers and head teachers, they they would not consider such a background necessary for the chief inspector’s role.
Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said:
Teachers and school leaders will be puzzled by this appointment.
Ms Spielman has never taught, has never led a school or a major public institution, and as chair of Ofqual, she has shown little or no understanding of the chaos which the agency has created in secondary schools through botched qualifications.
However, not all agree with this sentiment. Jonathan Simons, Head of Education and Policy Exchange, said:
She is not an ex-teacher. She is not an ex-head. She is a leader with a proven track record of delivering complex public services and large-scale people and budgetary management. From a strong field, she is undoubtedly the right choice.
Ms Spielman co-founded the Ark schools academy chain, which has transformed some of the most underperforming schools in the country. She is also a trustee of Stemnet, a network which works with thousands of schools, colleges and employers to inspire young people to study and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and maths.
She takes over from Sir Michael, who was appointed by former education secretary Michael Gove, and has overseen many changes to the Ofsted inspection framework. Spielman is seen by the DfE officials as a very different personality to Wilshaw, who clashed with Mr Gove on a range of subjects since taking the role in 2012.
Wilshaw spoke of his concerns about Ofsted’s future on Friday saying that:
Ofsted should not become the plaything of government.