In the news: David Bell

January 11, 2002

David Bell, the Bedfordshire County Council chief executive who was this week named Ofsted's chief inspector designate, is no stranger to the further education sector and the colleges in which he will be responsible for inspecting quality standards.

Local further education heads describe him as a "good listener who has taken an active interest in colleges". As well as having been a primary school headteacher, he was also a part-time academic: from 1987 to 1990 he taught an Open University MA course in management and administration.

Mr Bell's academic credentials also include an MA in history and philosophy, an MEd, a PGCE teaching qualification and a year spent as a Harkness fellow at Georgia State University, Atlanta, studying education and local government in the United States.

He will take over as head of Ofsted from Mike Tomlinson, who stepped in following the resignation of Chris Woodhead in November 2000. Last year, Mr Bell became the youngest county council chief executive in Britain. Before that, his claim to fame was being appointed the youngest director of education in the country - in Newcastle at the age of 36.

Now 43, Mr Bell has acquired a reputation for a dynamic style and a willingness to get to grips with new initiatives. Education secretary Estelle Morris said he made "huge progress" in raising standards in schools and described him as "the right person to help us lead education into an increasingly competitive world".

She will no doubt be hoping that he will lead Ofsted along the same path in its dealings with the post-16 sector, which ministers have said is their next target for raising standards. Ofsted has the job of comparing standards across all providers in the sector; information that will be used by the Learning and Skills Council in deciding how to reorganise education and training.

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