New national schools commissioner pledges ‘transparency and consistency’

The country’s regional schools commissioners will become “more transparent and more consistent”, the new national schools commissioner has pledged.

Dominic Herrington, who took over as interim NSC in September, told school leaders today that he wants a “tigher” relationship with trusts, as he pledged to sing the praises of the “unsung heroes” of the academies system – smaller academy trusts.

He also vowed to make the government’s secretive headteacher boards, which advise regional schools commissioners on their decisions about academisation and rebrokering, more transparent, adding that he wants “no mysteries” when it comes to the decision-making process.

Herrington has served as regional schools commissioner for the south east England and south London since 2014, and will remain in the role as he oversees the rest of the RSCs at a national level. Prior to becoming a commissioner, he was a civil servant and at one point ran the Department for Education’s academies group.

Setting out his priorities for the role at the Schools and Academies Show in Birmingham today, Herrington said he wanted to “get more multi-academy trusts sharing and learning” and refine the oversight role RSCs have with trusts, “making us more transparent, more consistent, tighter”.

And although he admitted the schools community faces “incredible challenges”, he said he would champion “good news” and the success of smaller academy trusts, which he branded the “unsung heroes” of the system.

“We we should be proud of our state education system and everything we do for children.”

He said he would “talk more about the next tier of MATs” – trusts with between one and five schools which are “often the unsung heroes that add to the system, who don’t put their heads up above the parapet but just do fantastic things at local level”.

More integration with the Education and Skills Funding Agency is also on the cards, he said.

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  1. Jon O'Connor

    “We we should be proud of our state education system and everything we do for children.” It’s very good to hear this message from Dominic Herrington.

    This appears to be an unashamedly inclusive statement – regardless of legal category, status or governance. So is this a radical change in the RSC message?

    There has been an historic ambiguity and reluctance by NSC and RSC to make clear that they hold an affirmative view of our entire education service.
    The reason is simply that their role and remit is heavily weighted towards management change for the “failing” maintained sector and maintenance work to address problems as they inevitably occur within the academy sector.

    Neither the role nor management change mechanisms promote the holistic, collaborative approach that education thrives on – the concept is flawed.
    Education is not a stock market, where we trade in buy-outs and take-overs.

    Please, Dominic, let’s say it clear, loud and proud.
    Good teaching, management and leadership are crucial to our children and young people. The structures of one system or another are statistically irrelevant; academies have not proved to be the panacea for best practice..
    But in some cases, change is absolutely right for a school.

    There are learning communities in both sectors which do succeed for children and others which deserve serious support and constructive intervention work.

    The tragedy is that the education service is an increasingly a divided society.
    It is not the school practitioners, nor even the Commissioners to blame for this.

    It is the policy which has regulated the system on a divisive basis since 2010 – and in so doing has contributed towards greater turbulence in leadership and management: something we should be unequivocally concerned about.

    In words and deeds, we need to reconcile the divide and move away from promoting the Academy sector to the detriment of non-Academy schools.

    I hope we can take your comments at face value.
    We do indeed have a system and schools we should be proud of.
    For now.