The Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan has issued a statement recommending that Amanda Spielman take on the role of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Ofsted and Education.
Her experience in creating successful academy chains is the main reason why she was chosen as the preferred candidate for this role. She developed ARK schools, one of the most prosperous academy groups in the country that helped struggling schools such as the King Solomon Academy to survive.
Morgan’s referral comes on the back of Sir Michael Wilshaw’s exit as Chief Inspector of Education. Wilshaw was renowned for his comments against the academisation scheme.
As a huge percentage of teachers, parents, students and politicians oppose the academisation scheme, it is not be surprising that they do not support Morgan’s candidate.
The National Union of Teachers (NUT), the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) have all voiced there concern over the potentially disastrous brainchild of Michael Gove. Gove was ‘demoted’ due to a vote of no confidence by these three organisations in 2014 and they all described his reasons for turning schools into academies as ‘speculative’ and referred to his tactics for changing the system as ‘dogmatic’.
One further issue that the Conservative Government is facing during the Department of Education’s plans to convert all schools to academies is the cross-bench criticism that it has received within the House of Commons. This may mean that Labour and Conservative politicians vote for a candidate who is not involved in Academy chaining such as Dame Alison Peacock, an experienced teacher and primary school head, or Russell Hobby, the general Secretary for the NAHT. This will however depend on whether the White Paper issued last month, declaring that all schools will become academies by 2020, becomes legislation.
Nicky Morgan praised Spielman by saying:
“Amanda has extensive experience at the frontline of the education system”
If the ‘frontline’ was the director’s chair, this comment would be justifiable. But usually this would refer to an active role within the education system which Spielman, an accountant, does not serve. There are other candidates with real experience within the education system that represent teachers as opposed to the economy.
Kevin Courtney, the acting General Secretary of the NUT said that:
“It is a sad indictment of this Government’s attitude to education that they place such little value on the experience of teachers and head teachers, that they would not consider such a background necessary for the chief inspector’s role.”