Former Conservative MP and academy chief join Ofsted board

A former Conservative MP who stood down after being tainted in the parliamentary expenses scandal has been appointed to Ofsted’s board.

Julie Kirkbride is one of five new appointments to the board. The other new members are Star Academies chief executive Hamid Patel, Education and Skills Funding Agency board member Martin Spencer, Bath College chair Carole Stott and Conservative peer Laura Wyld.

Our new members will bring perspectives and knowledge that will help as we continue to support the executive team

They will each be paid £8,282 for around 20 days’ work a year. The role of the board is to ensure Ofsted’s work is carried out “efficiently and effectively”.

Kirkbride was the Conservative MP for Bromsgrove from 1997 until 2010, when she stood down following criticism of accommodation expenses claimed by her and her MP husband Andrew Mackay.

The pair owned two homes, one in Bromsgove and another in London, and had each claimed for one as their second home, meaning all their accommodation was paid-for by the taxpayer.

Kirkbride and Mackay were ordered to pay back £60,000 between them following an investigation into MPs’ expenses, which rocked Westminster around a decade ago.

According to Ofsted, Kirkbride has not declared any political activity.

Hamid Patel is chief executive of Star Academies, a top academy trust often lauded by ministers. In 2018, Star had the highest overall progress 8 score of any trust, and also topped league tables for EBacc entries and average EBacc point score.

Star was previously known as the Tauheedul Education Trust, but changed its name last year when it expanded into non-faith provision. The first non-faith school inspected after joining Star was placed in special measures earlier this year.

Hamid Patel

The five new Ofsted board members were appointed following a joint process run by the DfE and Ofsted between January and May.

“We received over 400 applications of which 18 were interviewed by an advisory assessment panel,” said a spokesperson.

Julius Weinberg, the chair of the Ofsted board, said the “expertise, experience and passion” of the new board members “will be of great value to us”.

“We already have a strong board at Ofsted. Our new members will bring perspectives and knowledge that will help as we continue to support the executive team in the important role we perform.”