Siddhesh Joshi (Editor)

Christine Gilbert

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Name  Christine Gilbert

Education  University of Reading
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Teachers TV: Christine Gilbert

Total Academisation?

Christine Gilbert CBE was the Head of Ofsted (HMCI) also known as Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills between October 2006 and 30 June 2011.


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Early life

Gilbert (née McGinty) came from an Irish Catholic working-class family and went to a convent school in London. She studied English and History at the University of Reading.


Gilbert trained as a history teacher, "and I couldn't get over the fact that there were children of 14 or 15 in front of me who couldn't read," so took an Open University reading diploma to learn what she should do. At the age of 32, she became head of Whitmore High School, and then promoted to Director of Education for the London Borough of Harrow. She became head of Tower Hamlets Education Services in 1997 where those gaining General Certificate of Secondary Education or equivalent at good grades (A*-C) was raised to 56% from 26% in under a decade. Later she became Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets.


Gilbert became HM Chief Inspector on 1 October 2006, replacing Maurice Smith. One of her key briefs was to oversee the expansion of Ofsted's remit from April 2007 to include the inspection of children's social services, adult learning and aspects of court administration, as this relates to children. Gilbert states that her aim is that schools not be "satisfactory", that all should aspire to be "good". She is associated with "personalised learning" and aims to include "the child in the corner who isn't following".

She focused on free school meals as a factor that is an indicator of a poverty-group (incomes far below official levels of poverty are required to claim free meals). In 2000–01, there was a simple relationship of the higher the proportion of free school meals, the lower the chances of being rated good or better, and conversely the higher of being just satisfactory or worse.

Miriam Rosen, Gilbert’s successor, wrote in The Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2010/11 "In concluding this commentary, I want to take the opportunity to say a brief and personal word about Christine Gilbert, who finished her term as HMCI during the year. Christine brought the new Ofsted together from its predecessor organisations in 2007. She brought extraordinary energy and personal drive to the service of children and learners. She passionately believed not only that everyone deserves the best from the services they use, but that every child can and should achieve and do well. That has been the vision which has animated Ofsted for many years, and it continues to do so today".


On Monday 5 November 2012, Gilbert took up a post as Acting Chief Executive of the Council in the London Borough of Brent, initially for a six-month appointment, succeeding Gareth Daniel, who left at short notice earlier in the year.

Education beliefs

When she went into education she initially taught the 'whole books' method and believed in it, but seeing the effects of the National Literacy Strategy, realised for those of school age the explicit teaching of phonics was important.

Personal life

Divorced from her first husband, she met then councillor and later government minister Tony McNulty when she was Director of Education for the London Borough of Harrow. The couple married in September 2002 in Hammersmith and Fulham. She has no children from either marriage.

In 2010, The Tablet named her as one of Britain’s most influential Roman Catholics.


Christine Gilbert Wikipedia