What has been your highlight of the last 12 months?
After the disruption of recent years, completing almost a full year of normal inspection and regulatory work has to be this year’s highlight.
I’m very proud of the way that we responded to the challenges of the pandemic, but the satisfaction that completing our day-to-day work brings our staff, and the benefits it delivers for children and young people, is incomparable.
I am also very proud of the way we have risen to the challenge of inspecting all schools and further education providers by 2025.
What was your most difficult decision in 2022?
Tough decisions are at the heart of what we do at Ofsted and it’s impossible to single any one out.
All of the institutions we inspect are continuing to respond to the effects of the pandemic. I am proud of our inspectors and impressed with the way that they have been clear-eyed about standards for children, while at the same time recognising the impact of Covid disruption.
What is the biggest challenge facing your organisation in 2023, and how do you plan to meet that challenge as an organisation?
In the year ahead, we will be continuing our accelerated inspection cycle for schools and further education providers. I am confident in the dedication of all our staff, who are working hard to make sure we meet our targets.
We hope to see the social care reform programme proceed next year, and, as the regulator, we are committed to playing our part in taking forward any changes. The social care sector is under serious strain, and we remain concerned that there are not enough children’s homes in the right places to meet rising demand.
And personally, as a leader?
Leadership is always challenging. But I think that it will be especially difficult to navigate next year, with resource constraints and cost-of-living concerns affecting all the sectors we inspect and regulate. As chief inspector I will continue to stand up for children and the importance of high standards across education and care. But at the same time, acknowledging the difficulties many schools, further education, care and early years providers face.
It's not only Santa who has to work at Christmas. What is your best, worst or weirdest experience of working in the festive season?
One Christmas Eve, I had some local friends round for drinks.
At around 11pm, at the mention of roast potatoes, one of them went completely white – she had forgotten that she was in charge of vegetables for her family’s Christmas lunch two hundred miles away the next day.
The shops were, of course, shut and she had to leave her house by 6am on Christmas day to make it to lunch on time. So I emptied every single fruit and vegetable that I could find in my house into bags and sent her on her way. There was just enough for the 14 people she was charged with feeding, but it was a very strange assortment and must have made for an unusual Christmas lunch!