Ex-NSN director’s government appointment 'blocked' by Downing Street

Luke Tryl, the ex-director of the New Schools Network and a former adviser at the Department for Education, has had his return to government blocked by Downing Street, Schools Week has learned.

It was announced last month that Tryl was leaving the free schools charity after just a few months in the role to become a special adviser to Nicky Morgan, the culture secretary.

Tryl previously worked for Morgan when she was education secretary between 2014 and 2016, and was due to return to her office following her re-appointment to the cabinet by Boris Johnson.

However, multiple sources told Schools Week that Tryl’s appointment has been vetoed by Downing Street. One insider told this newspaper Tryl was “pretty devastated”.

It is understood the move to block Tryl’s appointment was part of a what has been described as a “crackdown” on more moderate SpAds by Johnson’s principal adviser and former DfE aide Dominic Cummings.

Cummings, who worked for Morgan’s predecessor Michael Gove at the DfE and ran the Vote Leave campaign, is reported to have blocked the appointment of a number of advisers seen as too moderate or associated with the remain-backing wing of the Conservative party, as the government prepares for a bitter fight over its Brexit stance.

BuzzFeed News reported this week how Cummings has instilled a “culture of fear” in government, with many senior aides now fearing for their jobs, especially if they backed remain in the referendum campaign. Tryl, like his mentor Morgan, backed remain in the EU referendum, and is very much on the liberal wing of his party.

A former head of education at Stonewall, Tryl joined the New Schools Network in March, leaving his role as director of corporate strategy at Ofsted. He officially left the NSN yesterday.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “We do not comment on individual appointments. SpAd appointments are all confirmed in due course at a later date.”

Tryl was approached for comment.