Ofsted Chief Inspector candidate rejected by Committee

07 July 2016

Following a recent pre-appointment hearing, the House of Commons Education Committee has reported that it is unable to support the appointment of Amanda Spielman, the Government's preferred candidate to succeed Sir Michael Wilshaw as Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Education, Children's Services and Skills (HMCI).

The Committee recognises Ms Spielman's range of experience and acknowledges her contributions to the education sector, principally through her roles at the ARK group of schools and in her current role as Chair of Ofqual. However, after questioning Ms Spielman during the hearing about her background, the challenges facing Ofsted, and her vision if appointed as Chief Inspector, the Committee were left with significant concerns about Ms Spielman's suitability for the post of HMCI.

Chair's comment

Education Committee chair Neil Carmichael MP said:

"Her Majesty's Chief Inspector has a critical role in raising standards in education, skills and children services and helping to deliver the best possible outcomes for children and young people. 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. 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.

Ms Spielman has experience of secondary education but she did not persuade that she had a clear understanding of the other aspects of the Chief Inspector's role, including early years, primary education, FE, 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. 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.

It is unusual for a Select Committee to find itself unable to support the Government's preferred candidate for a public appointment. However, it is our responsibility to hold Government to account and the seriousness of our concerns regarding this appointment has led us to produce this Report to the House of Commons. There is no urgency in this process – Sir Michael's term as HMCI does not expire until the end of the year. With this in mind, we call on the Secretary of State not to proceed with Ms Spielman's appointment."

As Appendix 4 to the report records, the Secretary of State met two other candidates deemed 'appointable' by the recruitment panel before nominating Ms Spielman. 

Lack of expertise on children's services among Ofsted's senior management

The Committee has also taken the opportunity, notwithstanding their views on the Government's preferred candidate on this occasion, to express concern about the lack of expertise on children's services amongst Ofsted's senior management. The Education Committee believes strong leadership is necessary in this area and recommends a permanent Deputy Chief Inspector be appointed to oversee the inspection of children's services from the point at which a new Chief Inspector takes up post.

The predecessor Education Committee (in the 2010-15 Parliament) called for Ofsted to be split into an Inspectorate for Education and an Inspectorate for Social Care.  Having reflected upon Ms Spielman's evidence and the evidence which the Committee has taken so far in this Parliament about the role of Ofsted, the Committee agrees that the remit of Ofsted is too large and that placing Ofsted's social care work into a separate inspectorate would help it to gain a greater profile.

Further information

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