Sally Collier on her first year as Ofqual chief regulator, and the 'smooth introduction' of new GCSEs and A-levels

Written by Civil Service World on 1 January 2018 in Feature

At the end of 2017, we asked the UK's top civil servants to look back at the year, outline their goals for 2018 – and tell us what they cannot do Christmas without

What are you most proud of achieving in 2017?

2017 saw my first year completed as chief regulator at Ofqual, and it has been an incredibly busy and stimulating year. I am most proud of the team’s achievements in playing their part in the smooth introduction of new reformed GCSEs and A-levels. 

This is the culmination of five years of hard work from every player in the education system. Ofqual’s role has been to set the rules by which exam boards deliver their qualifications, and then ‘accredit’ those qualifications. 

Once sat and marked, Ofqual ensures standards are maintained between exam boards. We also ran a successful national communications campaign for the new 9-1 graded GCSEs. 

What was your most difficult decision in 2017?

There have been many and no one in particular stands out. As a regulator we are guided by our statutory objectives and by doing what is fair for all students. 

Many of these decisions are neither easy nor popular! During the summer we needed to make decisions about whether our rules, and those of the exam boards, were sufficient to support students tragically caught up in the Manchester bombing and Grenfell fire. 

We also needed to decide what action to take in relating to alleged leaking of exam papers and malpractice in a small number of schools. 
What are your organisation’s top priorities in the year ahead?

2018 will be equally as busy – many more reformed 9-1 GCSEs and A-levels will be sat in 2018 and reform programmes in vocational and technical education will gather pace. We will expand our role as a quality assurance provider in apprenticeships and will be seeking to regulate the new T-levels effectively. 

For you no Christmas holiday would be complete without..

This year it has to be an Education Select Committee hearing on 19 December! When Christmas eventually arrives you’ll find me nowhere near the kitchen (at the special request of my husband) and trying to organise the rest of the family for compulsory board games – for which I’d get maximum marks for effort and not quite so many for achieving the required standard!

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