Exams

Jo Saxton to step down as Ofqual chief

She will become chief executive of UCAS in January

She will become chief executive of UCAS in January

Dr Jo Saxton

Dr Jo Saxton will stand down as chief regulator of Ofqual at the end of this year, the organisation has announced.

She will take up the role of chief executive of the Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS) in January. She will leave the exams regulator after just over two years in the job.

Ofqual will “soon” begin a public appoints process for a new chief regulator. However, it seems the regulator does not expect a replacement to be in place by January.

The organisation said the “existing senior leadership team and governance of Ofqual will provide continuity of leadership to the organisation and an interim chief regulator will be confirmed in due course”.

Ofqual could have sixth chief in four years

It means Ofqual faces potentially having its sixth chief regulator in four years. Sally Collier resigned in 2020 over that year’s grading fiasco, and was replaced on an interim basis by Dame Glenys Stacey, who was also her predecessor.

Simon Lebus replaced Stacey, again on an interim basis, in January 2021, and then Saxton took over in September of that year.

Saxton said it was a “significant honour to hold public office and I take my duties and commitments to students of all ages extremely seriously”.

“I am very proud of what we have achieved over the past 2 years. I fundamentally believe that a return to exams and pre-pandemic grading was the right and fair thing to do for students of all ages.

“I will be sad to leave so many brilliant colleagues and friends at Ofqual, but I know that the organisation has strong foundations and is extremely well positioned to continue to ensure public confidence in our qualifications system.”

Education secretary ‘hugely grateful’

In her role, Saxton has presided over the return to in-person exams following two years impacted by Covid, and a return to pre-pandemic grading this year.

Education secretary Gillian Keegan said she was “hugely grateful to Jo for guiding Ofqual through the challenges that followed the pandemic, ultimately overseeing a smooth return to exams and normal grading”.

“Jo’s knowledge and experience have been invaluable as we’ve navigated the past two years and returned to the exam arrangements that best serve young people.”

Ofqual chair Sir Ian Bauckham also paid tribute. He said Ofqual was “enormously grateful to her for her determined and principled leadership”.

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