Department for Education chief paid £278,000 to leave after exams fiasco

Jonathan Slater’s departure came after Boris Johnson demanded ‘fresh official leadership’

Zoe Tidman
Friday 17 December 2021 10:33
<p>Jonathan Slater, left, speaks to MPs in 2017 </p>

Jonathan Slater, left, speaks to MPs in 2017

The former top Department for Education (DfE) civil servant received a payout of nearly £278,000 to quit his post in the wake of last year’s exam grade fiasco, it has emerged.

Jonathan Slater was ousted as permanent secretary after Boris Johnson demanded “fresh official leadership” in August 2020.

He had just months left in the £165,000-a-year role when the DfE said he agreed to step down.

Official department documents have now revealed Mr Slater was paid £277,780 “for loss of office”.

He took home as much as £380,000 in the last financial year, including the severance payment, salary and pension benefits, the annual report and accounts show.

His departure from the DfE sparked outrage last year, with Boris Johnson accused of “throwing civil service leaders under a bus” as Mr Slater joined a list of officials to be removed.

Less than two weeks after the A-level exam fiasco, the government said in a statement: “The prime minister has concluded that there is a need for fresh official leadership at the Department for Education.

“Jonathan Slater has therefore agreed that he will stand down on 1 September, in advance of the end of his tenure in Spring 2021.”

Earlier that month, the DfE had come under fire for its system for working out exam grades - which initially relied on an algorithm - after exams were cancelled due to the Covid pandemic.

After tens of thousands of A-level grades were downgraded in moderation, the government U-turned and allowed students to take higher grades predicted by their teachers.

Mr Slater told Schools Week he first heard about his departure after an enquiry from a journalist for The Times.

“One of the advantages of the prime minister having had enough of me is I have more time with the family,” he said earlier this year.

Mr Slater and the DfE have been approached for comment.

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