Ken Boston has weathered the occasional storm. As the new chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, he was this week pitched into the row over whether exam boards deliberately down-graded marks in this year's A levels.
Dr Boston has been in the job for a matter of weeks. For the past decade, he was head of the New South Wales Education Department in Australia, where he sought to ensure that Australian children were educated in government-funded schools with a comprehensive mix of classmates. A former colleague described him as having "a formidable reputation as a wise and wily public servant".
Now he is in charge of reforming the QCA. Education secretary Estelle Morris has told Dr Boston that the authority must urgently address a number of key challenges, including a sharper focus on the capability of examination boards, to restore flagging public confidence in the system. She wants the QCA's relationship with the three main examination boards to be more strategic and less hands on.
Ms Morris said: "Ken Boston is a proven tough and effective manager and he will have new powers to intervene in exam boards to ensure higher standards. We have introduced these powers and I expect them to be used where necessary."
Dr Boston began his career as a teacher and lecturer in Victoria. Before becoming director-general for education and training in New South Wales, he held positions including director-general of education in South Australia and general manager of educational planning and policy in Victoria.
Last year, Dr Boston was made an Officer in the Order of Australia for his services to education and training. His hobbies include reading ancient Greek epics - he once claimed that an annual reading of Homer's Odyssey "keeps the mind alert".