Paul Smith to leave Future Academies for White Horse job

Academy leader was first RSC to quit for a job in the sector, joining a minister's trust

Academy leader was first RSC to quit for a job in the sector, joining a minister's trust

The chief executive of Future Academies is leaving to run the White Horse Federation, it has been announced.

Paul Smith, a former regional schools commissioner, will leave Future, a trust set up by former academies minister Lord Nash, at the end of this academic year.

Current White Horse chief executive Dr Nicholas Capstick announced plans to retire earlier this year.

Smith made headlines in 2015 when he was the first RSC to quit to take up an academy trust leadership role. He had been in post for less than two years.

At the time, Lord Nash was still in his ministerial role at the Department for Education.

Smith has been in charge at Future for seven years, during which time the trust has grown from four schools to 10. White Horse, his new trust, has 32 schools.

Future Academies
Lord Nash

Although not one of England’s largest trusts, Future has been in the media spotlight on several occasions over the years because of the prominence of its founder.

In 2018, Schools Week revealed how the trust was failing to meet government guidance that recommends most members of trusts be independent of boards of trustees.

Nash is currently the chair and a controlling member of the Future Academies trust. His wife Caroline is also a trustee and member.

Future’s flagship school, Pimlico Academy, made headlines over the last two years following a discrimination row, losing its coveted ‘outstanding’ rating last year.

Changes to school policies under new principal Daniel Smith prompted controversy, with students claiming uniform rules were discriminatory. Smith resigned from his headteacher role last summer.

More recently it was revealed how a £4 million government contract to run a Latin excellence programme had been handed to Future.

Lord Nash is also one of several former ministers who are extremely critical over the government’s proposed academies reforms, warning the sector was “very concerned about the far-reaching, vague and potentially draconian provisions that the government appear to be seeking”.

Ex-minister praises Smith’s leadership

In a statement, Lord and Lady Nash said it had been a “pleasure working with Paul over the last seven years and we wish him all the best for the future”.

“Under his leadership the trust has grown significantly and substantially improved the performance of a number of schools, thereby improving the life chances of many children and young people.”

Smith said it had been an “absolute privilege” to lead Future and he was “very proud of what the whole team has achieved during that time”.

“Future is a wonderful group of schools, united in their common belief in the power of a knowledge-rich curriculum to transform lives.

“I have every confidence that Future will go from strength to strength over the coming years and continue to play an important role in the sector as a centre for curriculum excellence.”

He added that he was “delighted” to join White Horse, praising Capstick’s “significant sector-wide contribution over the years”.

“There are many challenges facing the sector right now, and I’m looking forward to working with the team at The White Horse Federation to address these, to build on the strong foundations that are in place and make sure that we are delivering the very best possible education for every child in our care.”

Capstick will officially retire on December 31, following a three month transition period.

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