Mon, 2 October 2023

Newsletter sign-up

Subscribe now
The House Live All
100 million extra meals to combat the cost of living crisis…you would think it would be a no brainer Partner content
By FareShare
The National Tutoring Programme: Evidence based or just popular with parents? Partner content
Press releases

Ofqual chief Sally Collier quits after A-level results fiasco

Ofqual chief Sally Collier is set to quit (Credit: Civil Service World)

3 min read

Ofqual chief Sally Collier has quit in the wake of the A-level results fiasco which saw ministers forced into a U-turn on grades.

The exam watchdog said its under-fire chief regulator had "decided that the next stage of the awarding process would be better overseen by new leadership" after shelving a controversial process which saw nearly 40% of students' grades revised down in the wake of exams being cancelled by Covid-19 restrictions.

"The Ofqual Board has agreed temporary support arrangements with Ofsted to support the ongoing work on this summer’s GCSE, A level and vocational qualifications, including appeals and autumn exams, and preparations for next year’s exam season," an Ofqual statement said on Tuesday.

"The Chief Regulator, Sally Collier, has decided that the next stage of the awarding process would be better overseen by new leadership.

"The Ofqual Board supports Sally in this decision, and thanks her for her leadership and service over the past four years, which has included overseeing the successful introduction of an entirely new set of GCSEs and A levels, and a new grading system."

The departure follows calls for Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to be sacked after thousands of students faced turmoil after initially losing out on university places, before the Government ditched the algorithm it has used for grading and instead allowed pupils to rely on teacher-assessed grades.

Responding to the announcement, Mr Williamson said: "I'd like to thank her for her commitment she has shown to the role over the last four years and wish her well for the future."

Boris Johnson on Monday apologised for the "distress and anger" caused to students, but has so far stood by the Cabinet minister ahead of a planned reopening of schools in England next week.

And, speaking about the row on Tuesday, he said those who had completed their A-levels and GCSEs amid coronavirus restrictions were “in many ways the remarkable generation".

"Yes, you know if we had to do it again, we might have done some things differently, I’m certainly not going to deny that," the Prime Minister said.

“But they’ve got a series of results that they can certainly work with and use to develop their careers.”

Dame Glenys Stacey, Ms Collier's predecessor in the role, will take on a "temporary leadership role" at Ofqual as acting chief regulator until December 2020, the government said.

"If required, Ofsted will also provide additional staff to support Ofqual during the autumn, as they have been supporting other government departments through the summer," the department added.

"Taken together these arrangements will ensure that Ofqual has the extra capacity, support and oversight it needs both to tackle the remaining issues from this year’s awarding process and to ensure that next year’s arrangements command public confidence."

Ms Collier had been due to appear at a session of the Education Select Committee next week, with the cross-party group of MPs promising to press the chief regulator and Ofqual's chair Roger Taylor on "what went wrong in the awarding of grades, where responsibility lies and how and why problems with the standardisation model were not identified earlier".

PoliticsHome Newsletters

PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe