Williamson’s policy adviser set to be new Ofqual boss

Dr Jo Saxton

A former academy trust boss and policy adviser to Gavin Williamson has been put forward to be the new chief regulator of Ofqual.

The government has named Dr Jo Saxton as its preferred candidate for the role, following approval by the prime minister.

Simon Lebus has been in post in the top job on an interim basis since January and will leave in September.

Saxton was appointed as an adviser to the education secretary last year, advising Williamson and academies minister Baroness Berridge on policy issues. She was appointed as a civil servant, not a special adviser.

She was previously in charge of Turner Schools, which she established in Kent in 2016. She was previously chief executive of Future Academies, the trust set up by former academies minister Lord Nash. She was also a board member of Ofqual before taking up her government role, and is a former trustee of The Brilliant Club and New Schools Network.


Education committee hearing set for July 6

Saxton will now have to attend a pre-appointment hearing with the Parliamentary education committee on July 6.

The committee will then publish its recommendations and Williamson will “consider their recommendation before deciding on the final appointment which is then submitted to The Queen in Council for approval”.

The DfE said she had been selected “following an open recruitment competition and assessment process led by a panel, conducted in accordance with the governance code on public appointments”.

“I look forward to welcoming Jo Saxton to the role, whose wealth of experience makes her the ideal candidate to lead such an important organisation,” said Williamson.

“With a deep understanding of the education system and Ofqual, she will play a vital part in upholding standards and confidence in our exams and qualifications.”

He said he was “also grateful to Simon for his work as interim chief this year, helping the organisation to navigate the pandemic’s challenges”.

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  1. Janet Downs

    It’s concerning that so many supposedly ‘independent’ posts are being filled by (or likely to be filled by) high-profile supporters of government policy. Dame Rachel de Souza, founder of Parents and Teachers for Excellence (PTE)among other things, is Children’s Commissioner. Now Jo Saxton, also once connected to PTE, is set to become Ofqual chief. What next? Toby Young lined up to become Ofsted chief, perhaps? Far-fetched? But PTE is plugging TY’s ‘What Every Parent Needs to Know…’, published seven years ago, in its June 21 blog. No mention of his short stint at the Office for Students, of course.

  2. Peter Endersby

    What’s most worrying is that it appears that the nation has accepted that this government promotes supporters in all walks of public life. Partisanship and cronyism is rife but no one cares enough and most of the press stay absolutely silent and unfortunately the BBC is also on that list.