The House of Commons education committee has rejected the government’s proposal that Amanda Spielman become the next chief inspector of Ofsted, saying they have “significant concerns” about her suitability for the job.
Ms Spielman was named on June 10 as the government’s preferred candidate to succeed Sir Michael Wilshaw at the end of 2016.
Last week, Ms Spielman appeared before the committee for pre-appointment questioning.
Their report said:
- Ms Spielman did not demonstrate the passion for the role that we would have hoped for. We 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.
- She did not convince us that she had a clear understanding of the other aspects of this complex role, such as: early years; primary education; children’s services; child protection; looked-after children, special educational needs; and the educational support role for which local authorities are inspected.
- Ms Spielman did not appear to recognise the importance of building bridges with the professions inspected by Ofsted – in contrast to her predecessor, Ms Spielman would join Ofsted without any direct experience of teaching or children’s social care.
- We were […] deeply troubled by Ms Spielman’s statement that “you cannot say that the buck stops with Ofsted” on child protection – whilst we agree that those delivering children’s services should be responsible when they fail, the very purpose of inspecting children’s social care is to prevent children being placed at risk through service failure.
- We 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.
Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, said she was “surprised and disappointed” but remained “wholeheartedly in support of Amanda as the best person for this crucial role.”
Conservative committee chairman Neil Carmichael (pictured below) said he and his colleagues were “unconvinced” that Ms Spielman was the right person to lead Ofsted, to raise standards and improve the lives of children.
Ms Spielman’s responses on children 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.
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.