New Ofqual chief promises to work with sector for ‘smooth-running’ exams next year

The new interim chief regulator at Ofqual has promised to work with the sector to ensure the “smooth-running” of exams next year, as well as supporting “innovation” in assessment.

It was confirmed today that Simon Lebus will replace Dame Glenys Stacey from January 1, and will stay in post until September 17. FE Week revealed last month the former group chief executive at Cambridge Assessment, which runs exam board OCR, was set for the role.

Lebus said he will work with the sector to “ensure a smooth-running exam series in 2021 and to tackle important longer-term issues such as technical and vocational qualification reform and supporting innovation in assessment”.

He added: “Having spent 15 years of my career involved with public exams and qualifications, I have no doubt that Ofqual has an absolutely central role in ensuring the integrity, independence, fairness and quality of our assessment system and it will be a privilege to lead it in doing that.”

Lebus was said to have driven Cambridge Assessment through “major organisational and industry change”, including technology advances such as the introduction of on-screen marking and computer-based testing. He worked for the firm for 15 years before leaving in 2018.

His roles since include becoming a non-executive chairman at Sparx, an AI online platform for secondary school maths teaching, and a visiting fellow at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School, according to his LinkedIn page.

Ian Bauckham, who takes over from Roger Taylor as chair of Ofqual from January, said the appointment will “ensure that Ofqual has the extra capacity, support and oversight it needs to make sure that next year’s arrangements command public confidence, and to deliver its part in key qualification reform programmes”.

Lebus takes over from Stacey who was parachuted in to the role on a temporary basis following this year’s exams fiasco. As revealed by FE Week’s sister paper FE Week, Stacey has agreed to head a new Ofqual committee to oversee next year’s exams.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said Lebus’ “knowledge and experience will be vital as we work to make sure young people taking exams and qualifications in 2021 have the best possible chance to succeed”.

He also thanked Stacey for her “commitment and support over the last four months”.

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