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Under fire exams chief from Norwich quits after results chaos

PUBLISHED: 17:12 25 August 2020 | UPDATED: 17:12 25 August 2020

Sally Collier. Picture: Tom Reynolds/Flickr

Sally Collier. Picture: Tom Reynolds/Flickr

Tom Reynolds/Flickr

The under fire exams chief from Norwich whose team has presided over the A-level and GCSE grading saga has quit.

There was an outcry after A-Level students recieved downgraded results. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA WireThere was an outcry after A-Level students recieved downgraded results. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Ofqual said its chief regulator Sally Collier had decided “that the next stage of the awarding process would be better overseen by new leadership”.

It follows a Government U-turn away from awarding students in England grades based on an algorithm and instead to award pupils their teacher assessed grades.

The controversial algorithm had led to many students having their results downgraded earlier this month.

GCSE and A-level exams were cancelled in March due to coronavirus school closures. Picture: Getty ImagesGCSE and A-level exams were cancelled in March due to coronavirus school closures. Picture: Getty Images

MORE: Schools say GCSEs ‘true reflection’ as pass rate surges

Ms Collier studied a diploma in management studies at City College Norwich, from 1999 and 2001.

The self-proclaimed Norwich City Football Club fan had the walls in her Ofqual office in Coventry painted green, according to a Times profile.

And in an online article on Civil Service World from December 2018, she said she admired Norfolk First World War heroine and nurse Edith Cavell.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders. Picture: Archant LibraryGeoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders. Picture: Archant Library

Having previously worked at the treasury and government cabinet office, she was made chief regulator and chief executive of Ofqual in 2016, in which she earned over £200,000 a year.

Prior to the recent scandal over exam grades, she had previously spoken of valuing every student. In 2017 she intervened to lower the marks required for top grades after reforms aimed at increasing standards were introduced by former education secretary Michael Gove.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), and former Bury St Edmunds head teacher, described Ms Collier as a “highly intelligent, principled, and thoughtful person” and said ministers have questions to answer around what went wrong with results.

MORE: ‘Disgraceful’ - teachers and students unhappy at downgraded A-levels

He said: “This move follows the failure of the statistical model that led to this year’s grading fiasco, but the fault is not hers alone.

“Ministers have questions to answer over the extent to which they scrutinised and challenged the methodology and reliability of the statistical model, particularly given the enormity of the task and the importance of getting it right.”

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Following Sally Collier’s decision to step down as Ofqual’s chief regulator, I’d like to thank her for the commitment she has shown to the role over the last four years and wish her well for the future.

“Moving forward, my department will continue to work closely with Ofqual’s leadership to deliver fair results and exams for young people.”


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