Theodore Agnew, chairman of Norfolk academy group the Inspiration Trust, linked to top job at Ofsted

Theodore Agnew, chairman of the Inspiration Trust, attacks a wall with a sledgehammer at the start construction work for the Sir Isaac Newton Free School in Norwich in July 2013. Picture: Denise Bradley Theodore Agnew, chairman of the Inspiration Trust, attacks a wall with a sledgehammer at the start construction work for the Sir Isaac Newton Free School in Norwich in July 2013. Picture: Denise Bradley

Monday, February 3, 2014
8:43 AM

The chairman of a Norfolk academy trust which sponsors seven schools in the county is reported to be in the running to become the next chairman of the school inspectorate Ofsted.

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Businessman Theodore Agnew at Great Yarmouth Primary Academy.

Picture: James BassBusinessman Theodore Agnew at Great Yarmouth Primary Academy. Picture: James Bass

Theodore Agnew, whose Inspiration Trust includes the Thetford, Hethersett and Cromer Academies and two Norwich free schools, has been named in connection with the job after the government controversially decided not to reappoint Labour peer Baroness Morgan.

Mr Agnew is a Conservative party donor and insurance magnate who is currently chairman of the Department for Education’s Academies Board.

EDP profile of Theodore Agnew: From 11-plus misery and brothel cleaning to business success and a top job at Department for Education

The Inspiration Trust

Education secretary Michael Gove was questioned about Westminster rumours linking Mr Agnew to the Ofsted job on The Andrew Marr Show on BBC1 this morning.

He said the appointment would be made on merit and that it would be “quite wrong” to rule out a suitable candidate simply because he was a Conservative.

“I want to make sure that we have the widest range of candidates and I don’t think anyone should be ruled out on the basis of their political allegiance,” he said.

“If someone is a distinguished former Labour minister and they want to put their hat in the ring, then I would look favourably on that. If there’s a distinguished Liberal Democrat educationalist, great. If there’s someone who’s a Conservative, why should they be ruled out just because they are a Conservative? I think that would be quite wrong.”

The decision to replace Baroness Morgan led to a coalition row between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

A senior Lib Dem source made clear that they would resist any attempt to appoint Mr Agnew, who is a trustee of the Policy Exchange think tank which Mr Gove helped establish in her place.

“Education policy is far more important than rewarding a few Tory cronies. The Lib Dems will not let our children’s education be dictated by some Tory donor ideologue,” the source said.

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