Top DfE civil servant Jonathan Slater to step down after exams row

Slater’s departure follows that of Ofqual chief Sally Collier, whose resignation was announced on Tuesday

Jonathan Slater, the most senior civil servant in the Department for Education (DfE), is to step down from his post in the wake of the exams fiasco.

Slater will step down on 1 September after the “prime minister concluded that there is a need for fresh official leadership” in the department, the DfE said.

Slater’s departure follows that of Sally Collier, the chief executive of exams regulator Ofqual, whose resignation was announced on Tuesday.

Slater is one of several senior Whitehall figures to have stepped down in recent months, including the cabinet secretary, Mark Sedwill, and the Foreign Office permanent secretary, Simon McDonald.

He has been permanent secretary at the DfE since 2016. His departure is likely to infuriate civil service unions, which reacted angrily to Gavin Williamson’s attempts to blame officials for the exams U-turn.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “It’s just a scorched-earth policy for civil servants. The ministers who should be resigning because of their political decisions have just refused to take responsibility and are laying into these civil servants, the unfortunate fall guys and galls for ministerial incompetence.”

The prime minister on Wednesday suggested the exams fiasco, which saw thousands of results reversed, had been caused by a “mutant algorithm”.


Heather Stewart and Sally Weale

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