A long-serving policy adviser at the Department for Education is to join the Education Endowment Foundation.

The charity has announced that Chris Paterson is to become its director of impact, overseeing its “knowledge mobilisation and regional delivery partnerships, communications, policy and evidence synthesis functions”.

Paterson is currently a senior policy adviser to education secretary Gavin Williamson. He has worked at the DfE for around seven years, covering five secretaries of state.

He first joined the DfE to advise Liberal Democrat schools ministers David Laws, before going on to serve the following four secretary of states (Nicky Morgan, Justine Greening, Damian Hinds and Williamson).

Jonathan Simons, a former Downing Street education adviser, said Paterson had been an “unsung hero” of the education world.

“He’s fulfilled the unofficial but vital role of bridging the gap between politics, [department], and the sector. He is a tremendous loss to DfE and a huge gain for EEF.”

Sam Freedman, who was in the role before Paterson, said his departure marked the “end of an era”.

“Pretty much anything useful that’s happened in recent years – like the early careers framework – has come via him.”

Headteacher Stuart Lock describer Paterson as “one of the most effective people at the DfE”, and said replacing him would be a “real challenge”.

The EEF has also announced that Emily Yeomans, its former head of programme strategy and current director of the National Tutoring Programme, has been appointed as its new director of research. Anne-Laure Bedouet, the EEF’s current head of finance, will be its director of finance and operations.

Professor Becky Francis has been at the helm of the EEF since the beginning of last year. She replaced Sir Kevan Collins, who had previously served in the role for eight years.