Ofqual chief executive Glenys Stacey has announced that she will be standing down at the end of February.

Ms Stacey (pictured), who is also Ofqual’s chief regulator, said today that she thought “the time is right now for a change in leadership”.

She has led the qualifications watchdog, which was set up in April 2010, since March 2011.

“I have been enormously privileged to have led Ofqual for the last five years, and delighted at the way in which it has developed,” said Ms Stacey.

“It is now an established part of the education world, with a key role in maintaining standards and improving qualifications central to young people and their future life chances.”

She added: “It is time now for a fresh face to lead the organisation. I took this job in order to establish Ofqual as a credible, effective regulator. I have achieved that.

“I am not retiring, and will look to use the skills I have acquired over my long career in public service.”

A spokesperson for Ofqual confirmed Ms Stacey, who was previously chief executive of Standards for England, Animal Health, the Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Courts Committee and the Criminal Cases Review Commission, would leave “when her five-year term concludes at the end of February”.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said: “During a time of significant reform she [Ms Stacey] has brought both great insight and fastidiousness to this crucial role and our education system is much the better for it. I would like to thank her for all she has achieved in her time at Ofqual and for her commitment to public service.”

One of her most noticeable impacts on the FE sector was felt last November, when she said in a letter to Skills Minister Nick Boles that Functional Skills (FS) should remain “as stable as possible”.

She was replying to a letter sent to her by Mr Boles the previous month, in which he said that FS would “continue to be one of the types of qualification that learners have available”.

She welcomed the minister’s “clear statement about the importance you attach to FS”, but warned that “it takes some years for qualification titles to become understood and trusted, particularly by employers and others who are not close to the education system”.

“In general, our view is that we should keep the qualifications system as stable as possible, to allow qualifications time to prove themselves,” she said.

Ms Stacey also marshalled the regulator’s response to the 2012 GCSE fiasco where grade boundaries were changed dramatically by exam boards midway through the academic year.

Ofqual said the boundaries set were too easy, but teachers and parents hit out against the change and took their case to the High Court.

The regulator stood firm despite the mounting criticism and judges dismissed the case – ruling out unlawful behaviour by Ofqual.

Ofqual chair Amanda Spielman said: “Glenys will be a huge loss to Ofqual, but it is typical of her approach that she has given us an extended period of time to find a suitable replacement and opportunity to ensure a smooth transition.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said that it will oversee the recruitment process for Ms Stacey’s successor.

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