A former academy trust boss and policy adviser to Gavin Williamson has been put forward to be the new chief regulator of Ofqual.

The government has named Dr Jo Saxton as its preferred candidate for the role, following approval by the prime minister.

Simon Lebus has been in post in the top job on an interim basis since January and will leave in September.

Saxton was appointed as an adviser to the education secretary last year, advising Williamson and academies minister Baroness Berridge on policy issues. She was appointed as a civil servant, not a special adviser.

She was previously in charge of Turner Schools, which she established in Kent in 2016. She was previously chief executive of Future Academies, the trust set up by former academies minister Lord Nash. She was also a director of Ofqual before taking up her government role, and is a former trustee of The Brilliant Club and New Schools Network.



Saxton will now have to attend a pre-appointment hearing with the Parliamentary education committee on July 6.

The committee will then publish its recommendations and Williamson will “consider their recommendation before deciding on the final appointment which is then submitted to The Queen in Council for approval”.

The DfE said she had been selected “following an open recruitment competition and assessment process led by a panel, conducted in accordance with the governance code on public appointments”.

“I look forward to welcoming Jo Saxton to the role, whose wealth of experience makes her the ideal candidate to lead such an important organisation,” said Williamson

“With a deep understanding of the education system and Ofqual, she will play a vital part in upholding standards and confidence in our exams and qualifications.”

He said he was “also grateful to Simon for his work as interim chief this year, helping the organisation to navigate the pandemic’s challenges”.

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