ISI appoints Chief Inspector – Chief Executive

The Board of the ISI is delighted to announce the appointment of Vanessa Ward as Chief Inspector of the Independent Schools Inspectorate. Vanessa will also lead the organisation as Chief Executive Officer, a role which had previously been a separate post.

Vanessa brings outstanding credentials to the role, including a breadth and depth of inspection experience as one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI) at Ofsted, a strong track record of school leadership, and commercial experience running a successful consultancy practice supporting school improvement in UK and international schools.

Initially, Vanessa practised as a solicitor before retraining as a teacher. Her distinguished career in education includes the headship of The Tiffin Girls’ School, one of the highest performing state schools in the UK. Vanessa joined Ofsted as an HMI, where she led inspections in both the state and independent sectors. In her consultancy work, she has worked closely with diverse education providers including independent schools, primary and secondary academies and maintained schools, special schools, multi-academy trusts, and international schools. Vanessa holds an MA (Hons) in English Literature from the University of Edinburgh.

Vanessa, who will take up the post on 1 February 2021, said:

“I am excited to be joining ISI in this newly merged role, which embeds the fundamental connection between high-quality inspection and school self-improvement. I look forward to leading the organisation in fulfilling its purpose of enabling children to be safe, well-educated and thrive. Our priorities will be to embed ISI’s clear strategy and values; deepen understanding of how inspection adds value; learn from the challenges of the past year; and develop ISI’s new inspection framework through strong relationships and in consultation with all of our stakeholders”.

Christine Swabey, Chair of the ISI Board, said:

“I am delighted to welcome Vanessa to ISI as our new Chief Inspector and Chief Executive. Her passion for leading change focused on outcomes for children and her depth of experience in school leadership and inspection, make her ideally suited to take ISI forward at a crucial stage. Vanessa will provide overall leadership to the team at ISI, including the inspector workforce, as well as providing a single point of focus for the recently restructured independent Board and our stakeholders. We wish Vanessa well in her new role.”

Vanessa was selected from a strong field assembled by Perrett Laver, following an open recruitment process. The appointment has been endorsed by the Secretary of State for Education, on the recommendation of the Board of the ISI.

ISI is very much looking forward to resuming routine inspection in 2021 as soon as it is safe to do so.