Schools’ regulator Ofsted is under scrutiny again after Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said she will force through the appointment of its new head, despite strong opposition from MPs.
Morgan will appoint Amanda Spielman, currently Chairman of exams’ regulator Ofqual, to the role although she has no teaching experience and was rejected as a candidate by the Education Select Committee.
Ofsted has been heavily criticised over the past two years for its heavy-handed and politically correct implementation of the Government’s ‘British values’ agenda.
Chairman of the Education Committee Neil Carmichael MP said he was “unconvinced” that Spielman is prepared for the role, and called on Nicky Morgan not to proceed with her appointment.
After Spielman was questioned by the committee last week, Carmichael said: “As a committee we did not leave the session with the view that Amanda Spielman was prepared for the vast scope and complexity of this important role.”
Morgan says she is “100% confident” in her decision and will override the advice of the committee.
Critics consider the role of Ofsted to be far too wide. Earlier this week a Guardian editorial described the schools’ regulator as a “vast bureaucracy” which currently encompasses children’s services and some parts of the prison service, as well as schools.
Ofsted has consistently come under fire for its implementation of the Government’s British values agenda and controversial schools standards regulations, which came into force in 2014.
The regulations led to a series of inspections in Christian schools which generated serious allegations of intrusive and inappropriate questioning of young pupils by inspectors.
A hostile Ofsted inspection of The Durham Free school, a new school with a Christian ethos, resulted in its closure.
The Government has consulted on giving Ofsted legal powers to investigate any setting in England that provides instruction to children for more than six to eight hours in any week. This could include Sunday schools, youth groups and holiday Bible clubs.
The Christian Institute, CARE, Christian Concern, Evangelical Alliance and Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship are calling for the Government to scrap the controversial plans.
To find out more about this issue, visit our out-of-school settings page.