Amanda Spielman, the DfE’s preferred candidate for the chief inspector of Ofsted, today faced the Education Select Committee to outline her plans for the role.
When asked why she wanted the role, Spielman said it was not something that could be approached simplistically, required extensive knowledge of the education system and government, and was “a challenge I couldn’t resist.” She says she will focus on evidence-led inspections, that “look at what is there” and not “over-reach”. She also aims to strike a balance between honest and objective reporting with overall positive school improvement.
As chairman of Ofqual, Spielman is used to a high-profile role where she is likely to be criticised and find it hard to gain respect. Her management experience stands her in good stead, to lead a team and create a strategy for Ofsted.
An experienced leader and manager, Spielman faced several questions about her lack of ‘front line’ teaching experience. Despite the job-interview style pressure, she remained insistent that it was not necessary to have been a teacher, as many of the Ofsted inspection team have. She reminded the Committee that there had been a “huge amount of positive reaction” to her selection.
Spielman’s time at Ark Schools has provided experience in school improvement, the Committee were told. Identifying problems in new schools, setting out solutions and assembling the right teams were all part of the day job at Ark. She is also confident in challenging government policy, citing Ofqual’s push-back on the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) reform as an example.
When asked about her alignment with the government’s academisation plans, Spielman said she had not taken a ‘dogmatic view’ that a particular school structure is the right way to do things. She continued: “I think…there are all manner of factors that dictate what’s effective in a given situation and it is Ofsted’s job to look objectively.”