TES referred to him as “the man at the top of the academy tree” – today the DfE announced that Dominic Herrington has been confirmed as National Schools Commissioner (NSC) – after holding the position on an interim basis since September 2018. It’s a significant appointment for the DfE with more than 50 per cent of children in state-funded schools in England now studying in an academy or free school.
The NSC oversees the network of eight regional schools commissioners (RSCs) across England, and the headteacher boards (HTBs) that advise them. These are significant and powerful positions, deciding which schools become academies, who runs them, and what happens to them when things go wrong.
Herrington was previously the Regional Schools Commissioner for South London and South-East England – a permanent replacement for this role has yet to be announced by the DfE. He has never taught in schools in England (like Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman) but has previously held positions in universities and the DfE, and continues to volunteer as a governor at a maintained London primary school.
He spoke at the The Schools and Academies Show in London last month, where he mentioned how “…we can’t celebrate the governance of MATs enough, as the roots of a successful MAT is in the governance…” School and academy leaders will be waiting to see what announcements he may now make about the future role and remit of RSCs across the country.
The TES ran an interesting article last month about how “the DfE is planning changes to the system that oversees academies which could lead to career civil servants rather than former school leaders overseeing thousands of schools…It is understood that the proposals could also see the offices of the eight regional schools commissioners (RSCs) beefed up and given a greater role in areas such as teacher recruitment. The DfE said the reforms, which have yet to be publicly announced, amounted to “operational changes” rather than changes to policy…”
Interesting to see what announcements will emerge from Herrington and the DfE in coming months…