Education secretary Nicky Morgan has confirmed she will press ahead with plans to appoint Amanda Spielman as chief inspector of Ofsted.
Morgan announced her intentions in a scathing letter to education select committee chair Neil Carmichael, published this afternoon. It follows the committee recommending Spielman is rejected for the role, saying she “lacked passion” and did not have relevant experience in children’s services.
But Morgan reiterated that Spielman was the best candidate, adding she was “surprised and disappointed” by the committee’s report.
She said members’ views on the desirable qualities and skills wanted from the next chief inspector were “different in very significant areas from the advertised person specification (which the committee received before the role was advertised)”.
Morgan said the committee had “misunderstood the reality of the HMCI’s role” and said their report was “factually wrong” by suggesting Ofsted is “accountable for failures in child protection”.
“Amanda was completely right to say that this responsibility rests with ‘those who are actually directly responsible for the children day to day in social care’, whilst also recognising the enormous responsibility of inspecting child protection and other children’s services. This is an important error in the report.”
She said she was “concerned the committee appears to have been looking for a narrow and stereotypical representation of leadership, vision and motivation”, adding: “I am not seeking what one committee member described as a ‘crusader’ during the hearing”.
“That is what I am looking for in the next chief inspector: someone with a relentless determination to raise standards, but also a rigorous and clear-sighted leader for Ofsted, who will lead the organisation and its inspectors to form reliable, credible and well-evidenced judgements about the quality of education and care young people receive.”
She added: “I am sure that Amanda will generate fewer headlines than her predecessor, but I also know that she will not shy away from challenging Government, nor offering frank assessments of the performance of our educational institutions. I have absolutely no doubt that under her watch Ofsted will play a central – and highly effective – role in supporting and driving improvement in childcare, schools, children’s services and adult learning.”
The announcement follows a rally of support for Spielman from education leaders including schools commissioner Sir David Carter and Ofsted national director of education Sean Harford.
Schools Week also learned Nicky Morgan’s aides had launched a campaign last night to rally supporters of Spielman, urging key stakeholders to sign a letter showing their support.