The government is urging academy leaders to run for election as advisers to regional schools commissioners.
The Department for Education is looking for four new elected recruits to serve on each of the eight RSC regions’ advisory boards — previously known as headteacher boards.
Nominations opened today, several weeks later than initially planned, with voting due to take place in November and the results to be announced early next year.
The elections, due last year, had already been delayed by the pandemic.
The boards were rebranded as eligibility rules have been widened. Academy trust chief executives without headship experience can now stand, as well as academy heads.
RSCs have a remit to intervene in struggling, expanding or new schools and trusts in their regions. They meet with advisers regularly to decide on conversions, rebrokering and other academy-related changes.
National schools commissioner Dominic Herrington, who supervises the work of RSCs, said the boards provide “essential advice and challenge”.
“The knowledge, professional expertise and experience that boards bring to RSC decision-making has never been more important,” he said in a statement on the nomination website.
He encouraged eligible leaders to put themselves forward as candidates, and all academy heads to vote in their areas. Heads will receive election information directly “soon”.
“We would particularly welcome applicants from under-represented backgrounds,” Herrington added.
Each advisory board must include at least one primary and one secondary headteacher, and no more than one person per trust. RSCs also typically appoint between two and four other advisers themselves in their regions.
Elected members are expected to dedicate between half and a full day a week to “influence, challenge and support” their RSCs, according to contract documents seen by Schools Week.
The documents show Print Image Network has won a £14,645 contract to run the elections. It describes itself as “one of the foremost providers of electoral support services in the UK”, working with dozens of local authorities.
It says the aim is to have 32 new advisors in post from “as early as January” straight after the elections.
The DfE hopes to have a “minimum participation rate of 60 per cent voter turnout”, and expects a “‘lesson’s learnt” report after the polls, in which only academy heads can vote.
The turnout at the 2019 general election was 67.3 per cent across the UK, though in 287 areas it was below two-thirds of the electorate.