Four new appointments to the board of the independent exams regulator and one term extension.

The Secretary of State has appointed 4 new members to the Ofqual board. The term of Neil Watts, who has already served 7 years as a member, has been extended to 31 December 2017.

Hywel Jones, Christine Ryan, Frances Wadsworth and David Wakefield joined the board of the independent exams regulator on 1 April 2017, and will be in post for 3 years.

Ofqual (the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation) regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England, maintaining standards and confidence in GCSEs, AS levels, A levels and vocational qualifications.

Roger Taylor, Chair of Ofqual said:

I am delighted to welcome Hywel, Christine, Frances and David to the Ofqual Board and equally delighted that Neil will continue as a board member.

I am confident that all 5 members’ knowledge and experience will greatly benefit Ofqual in its important work in ensuring qualifications in England are of the highest standard.

Appointment process

The appointment process was run in accordance with the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ code of practice and all appointments were made on merit. All 4 members confirmed that they have no political activity to declare.

Hywel Jones and Christine Ryan do not hold any other public appointments. Frances Wadsworth, David Wakefield and Neil Watts have confirmed that they hold positions on several other boards and trusts, as set out below.


Hywel Jones

Hywel Jones is the headteacher of the West London Free School. He has been in post for the past 3 academic years. He previously worked as a history teacher at the City of Ely Community College and then moved to St Mary’s Catholic School in Bishop’s Stortford where he became an Assistant Head with responsibility for the 11-18 curriculum. Prior to teaching, he worked for Deloitte as a tax reorganisation consultant advising high-profile sports organisations.

He passionately believes education should provide students with an insight into our human heritage, and should not be overly concerned with the surface level of vocational and technological change. He speaks regularly at national conferences on curriculum development and the ‘prevent’ strategy in schools.

Christine Ryan

Christine Ryan is a qualified scientist and teacher with more than 20 years’ experience in education, first as a teacher across primary, secondary and adult education, and then in her work as an education and science consultant.

Christine then moved into independent education, becoming the Chief Inspector and Chief Executive Officer of the Independent Schools Inspectorate.

With particular strengths in education effectiveness and improvement, Christine is experienced at successfully operating in complex, regulated environments in the UK, and overseas. Christine has a number of scientific and educational publications, advising television programmes including the series New Living Body, winner of the Japan Prize for Educational Excellence.

Frances Wadsworth

Frances Wadsworth joined Croydon College as Principal and Chief Executive in January 2011, following 6 years as Principal and CEO of East Surrey College. She has over 30 years’ experience of working in education, having taught and managed in a number of Schools and Further Education Colleges across the UK. She has also worked in retail management and in Washington DC at the British Embassy.

Frances’ qualifications include a:

  • degree in English and philosophy
  • diploma in management studies
  • masters in management practice
  • postgraduate teaching certificate in education

She has been a governor for a number of schools and a university, a director on Croydon’s business improvement district board and is currently a trustee for a charity, a state boarding school and the construction industry training board. She is a fellow of The Royal Society of Arts.

David Wakefield

David Wakefield is a qualified accountant and has held several senior executive posts in sales, operations and project management. He worked in the furniture trade for 12 years and with Royal Mail for 27 years.

At Royal Mail, his experience included the posts of Commercial Finance Director and National Home Shopping Director. David’s experience in industry and large public organisations has cultivated a belief in the value of providing and securing qualifications that are beneficial and appreciated by companies and individuals alike.

David has also held a number of non-executive directorships. He was appointed a Non-Executive Director of the Crown Commercial Service in September 2014 to chair its audit committee and is also Chair of Bolton NHS Foundation Trust. David has recently taken on a new role as Chair of a multi-academy trust, Leverhulme Academy Trust in Bolton.

Neil Watts

Neil Watts learned his craft at King Henry VIII School, Coventry and then worked in Essex and Suffolk as Head of Department, Head of Sixth Form and Deputy Headteacher. In this role of Deputy Head, he had the opportunity to work with local and national architects on the rebuilding of the ‘flagship’ school of Suffolk County Council - Northgate High School, Ipswich.

Following this, he became Headteacher of Sudbury Upper School before returning to Northgate as Head in 1992.

After retiring, he moved to a consultant head role within Suffolk County Council in September 2009, combining that with his position as a Board member of Ofqual. He is also a member of the Complaints Committee of the Independent Press Standards Organisation and the Advisory Board of Cifas.

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