Article: "Row Over Boston's UK Job"

The Sun-Herald,
1 December 2002

By Mathew Benns

Former NSW education chief Dr Ken Boston has been met with a storm of protest over his appointment to shake up the UK examinations body.

Questions are to be tabled in the British Parliament after MPs discovered that Dr Boston was the head of school education in NSW during a public inquiry into sex-offenders in schools.

Dr Boston, 60, is being paid more than $250,000 a year to run the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and restore confidence in Britain's ailing A-level examinations.

But British MPs were out-raged to learn he had headed the NSW education body during the Royal Commission that found more than 100 teachers accused of abusing pupils had been given references allowing them to work with children in other States.

Shadow Education Secretary Damian Green said: "Parents are already concerned about the QCA and exams standards and they now need reassurance.

"The Government needs to explain what they knew about Ken Boston's background in Australia, what checks were carried out, and then they must publish their reasons for employing him."

Liberal Democrat education spokesman Phil Willis called for a select committee of MPs to investigate. "The last thing we wanted was someone in charge of the system who has a history of presiding over malpractice," he said.

Dr Boston said: "I have been very open with people at the QCA about the Royal Commission and its findings but I don't think there was any discussion of it at interview.

"There had been a culture over many, many years of not dealing with pedophilia. I was recognised in NSW for being the one education bureaucrat who brought about reform in this issue.

"I can't see it in any way incapacitating my ability to do this task."