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Nicky Morgan embarrassed after MPs reject her choice as new Ofsted boss

44A committee of MPs has resoundingly rejected Nicky Morgan’s choice for the new head of Ofsted, citing a lack of teaching experience and “passion” for the role.

The Government says Amanda Spielman, the current head of the exams regulator Ofqual, would be the person best placed to succeed as chief inspector of Britain’s schools, taking over from the incumbent Sir Michael Wilshaw at the end of the year.

However, members of the Education Select Committee disagreed after interrogating Ms Spielman on her suitability for the position last week, concluding that she failed to understand the “complex role” and were “deeply troubled” by her responses on child protection.

MPs said Ms Spielman “did not convince [them] she had a clear understanding” of primary education, children’s services, special educational needs and a range of other aspects of the role.

The report continued: “Ms Spielman did not demonstrate the passion for the role that we would have hoped for. She did not refer to the chief inspector’s role in raising standards and improving the lives of children and young people.

“We were deeply troubled by Ms Spielman’s statement that “you cannot say that the buck stops with Ofsted” on child protection.

“We did not leave the session with a clear sense of how Ms Spielman would go beyond Ofsted’s mission statement to translate it into practice or of the direction she saw Ofsted taking under her leadership.”

While Ms Spielman’s knowledge of secondary education was deemed to be exemplary, the potential future chief inspector failed to show any appreciation of all the other aspects of the job, MPs said.

The rejection of the nominee will be a source of embarrassment for minister Nicky Morgan, who said she was “surprised and disappointed” by the committee’s conclusions while emphasising Ms Spielman’s “proven track record as a leader”.

A former chartered accountant, Ms Spielman worked for investment bank Nomura International until 2001 before moving into the education sector and becoming a policy director for the Ark academy chain in 2004.

Conservative committee chairman Neil Carmichael meanwhile said it was “unusual” for MPs to reject the government’s choice for a public appointment, but said Ms Spielman’s application left the committee “unconvinced” she was right for the position.

The Department for Education may reopen applications for the post if Ms Spielman withdraws or is now rejected by the government, or may eventually appoint the other shortlisted candidate Toby Salt.