Gavin Williamson denies forcing Ofqual boss to quit

Gavin Williamson denies making Ofqual boss Sally Collier a scapegoat as she quits over A-level and GCSE results chaos and says he has never considered resigning over the U-turn

  • It was announced yesterday that Sally Collier was resigning as head of Ofqual
  • Gavin Williamson today insisted that he had not forced Ms Collier to resign
  • He said exams chaos due to ‘unprecedented’ situation caused by coronavirus 

Gavin Williamson today insisted he did not force the boss of exam regulator Ofqual to resign in the wake of the Government’s A-level and GCSE results debacle. 

Sally Collier quit her role as chief regulator yesterday and Mr Williamson has denied that he made her carry the can for the exam chaos. 

Meanwhile, the Education Secretary suggested he had never considered quitting his own role despite widespread calls for him to step down over his handling of the row. 

Gavin Williamson today denied that he had forced Sally Collier to quit as the head of exam regulator Ofqual

Ofqual was heavily criticised for its handling of the process for awarding grades after exams were cancelled because of the coronavirus crisis. 

The regulator used a controversial algorithm to calculate student grades but it was ditched after it emerged that 40 per cent of grades had been downgraded below teacher estimates. 

Mr Williamson had initially backed using the algorithm, describing the grading system as ‘robust’. 

But student and parent anger forced the Government to change tack as grades were re-awarded based on teacher predictions. 

The Education Secretary initially blamed Ofqual for the fiasco but later insisted he had full confidence in the regulator and its leadership. 

Mr Williamson today insisted he had not asked Ms Collier to quit as he said the results chaos was due to the ‘unprecedented’ situation caused by coronavirus.

‘No, this was a decision that Sally made, an incredibly dedicated and committed public servant, and in discussions with the Ofqual board, which, as you’re aware, is a non-ministerial government department,’ he told BBC’s Breakfast.

‘That was a decision between them.’

Mr Williamson remains under pressure to quit over his handling of the exams debacle and a Government U-turn on the wearing of face masks in schools in England has also prompted further scrutiny of his position. 

But the Education Secretary today indicated he had not considered resigning.

He told Times Radio: ‘My focus has been working with Ofqual to make sure we get those examination results out and making sure that we have everything in place to be able to welcome young people back into school over the next few weeks.

‘That’s where the focus is, that’s what I think people expect us to be doing, that’s what people will expect us to be delivering.’

The Times reported today that Ms Collier could make a return to the civil service in a role at the Cabinet Office. 

Ms Collier announced her resignation fro Ofqual yesterday amid reports she could return to a civil service role at the Cabinet Office

She was previously in charge of government procurement as chief executive of the Crown Commercial Service. 

In a statement released yesterday afternoon Ofqual said Ms Collier, who had not worked in education previously, ‘has decided that the next stage of the awarding process would be better overseen by new leadership’.

‘As a result, the Ofqual Board has asked Dame Glenys Stacey to assume a temporary leadership role as acting Chief Regulator until December 2020, having previously served as Chief Regulator between 2011 and 2016,’ it added.

‘She will be supported by a new committee of the Ofqual board, which will include one or more of the current Ofsted board members. This new committee will be chaired by Amanda Spielman and will oversee the work of Ofqual to the end of the year.’

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