Independent review to check ESFA ‘remains effective’

An independent review has been launched to ensure the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) “remains effective into the future”, the government has announced.

The review will look at the “operating model, governance, accountability  and impact” of the organisation. It is part of wider programme of reviews into arm’s length bodies.

The ESFA is accountable for £65 billion of funding for the education and training sector. It regulates academics, further education and sixth form colleges, and training providers, as well as delivering the National Careers Service, apprenticeships and T-levels.

Professor Sir David Bell, vice chancellor at the University of Sunderland and former Department for Education permanent secretary, will lead the review, which will run until early 2022.

It comes after the ESFA’s chief executive Eileen Milner stepped down this year, as revealed by Schools Week. She has been replaced on an interim basis by former regional schools commissioner John Edwards.

Academies minister Baroness Berridge said the ESFA is responsible for ensuring funding “gets to where it is needed and is properly spent, among a wide range of other vital functions.

“We will examine the ESFA and will identify opportunities for improvement, and areas of success on which we can build, so that it continues to deliver for the public and continues to represent a responsible use of taxpayers’ money.”

Bell will be support by “a team of civil servants” and will have access to a “challenge panel” who will provide “insight and feedback drawing on their personal experience and expertise”. The panel is yet to be appointed.

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