Former Downing Street policy adviser Rory Gribbell is set to become special adviser to new education secretary Kit Malthouse, replacing Mark Lehain, Schools Week has learned.
Gribbell, a Teach First alumnus, had been leading on education policy in the Number 10 policy unit since August 2020, but was fired when Liz Truss took over as prime minister last week.
Schools Week understands he is now set to be appointed as Malthouse’s policy special adviser (SpAd).
However it is understood Gribbell’s appointment is still awaiting Downing Street approval, and new prime minister Liz Truss has overseen a clear-out of her predecessor Boris Johnson’s aides.
The Number 10 policy unit was set up by Johnson’s former chief adviser, Dominic Cummings.
It would mark a return to the Department for Education for Gribbell, who previously served as a teacher in residence to ex-schools minister Nick Gibb and then schools policy adviser.
Lehain, who was appointed policy adviser to former education secretary Nadhim Zahawi last year and continued to serve following July’s reshuffle, is now due to leave the department. He was approached for comment.
A former New Schools Network director and founder of Bedford Free School, Lehain was a key architect of the government’s flagship schools bill.
Schools Week revealed last week that the bill is now under review by team Truss, which is prioritising opening new grammar schools.
She has appointed two grammar school supporters as ministers at the department.
More recently, Gribbell has been one of the driving forces behind controversial reforms to teacher training. He also helped establish the National Tutoring Programme and steer the return of exams after the pandemic.
His appointment at the DfE comes at a critical time for the policy, with fears the ITT review will lead to a deficit of teacher training places, and gloomy predictions about recruitment over the next few years.
Will Bickford Smith, the DfE’s schools policy adviser who also worked closely on the reforms, is leaving later this month.
Robyn Staveley, a former special adviser to the Cabinet Office and Home Office, has been appointed as a special adviser at the DfE, according to her LinkedIn.