Profile of the week

September 25, 1998

The shining morning face of schoolboy John Randall, now chief executive of the Quality Assurance Agency, would have met from time to time Chris Woodhead, chief inspector of schools and fellow pupil at Wallington County Grammar School, Sutton.

Other ages of Randall's career have been similarly peppered with names from the education establishment.

His first job, after a year as president of the National Union of Students, was at the Civil Service Union, where he worked alongside Diana Warwick, now chief executive of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals. These days, he is said to be on Christmas card receiving terms with both Chancellor Gordon Brown and Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett.

Always something of a political animal, he was president of York University student union while studying for a BA in biology and education and he has been active in the Labour Party, helping Labour candidate Gisela Stuart to her Edgbaston seat in the last election.

He is a strong advocate of National Vocational Qualifications and, as director of professional standards at the Law Society, introduced NVQs for para-legals. This caused controversy in higher education but made him a full member of the NVQ "mafia".

His appointment to the QAA led some to invent the verb "to Randallise", meaning to be macho or tough because of his determination to reform the quality assurance system.

But he is generally considered good company and a fluent speaker with a knack for making friends and an interest in wine.

Now 51, remarried with a son and daughter by his first wife, he is called a "chameleon" by doubters and "willing to listen and change his mind" by supporters.

He has shown himself an advocate of strong codes of practice and not afraid to rock the boat, with a reputation for being "unpompous".

People is edited by Harriet Swain and researched by Lynne Williams.

Send all information to Lynne Williams. THES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. Tel 0171 782 3375.

Full listings of grants, appointments and honours appear on the THES website

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