A regional schools commissioner (RSC) has been “poached” to join an academy chain set up by a government minister.
Paul Smith, RSC for Lancashire and West Yorkshire, resigned less than a year into the new role, established by the government to oversee its growing academy programme.
His departure was revealed earlier this year during a parliamentary debate into the new education bill during which Mr Smith (pictured) was congratulated for “being poached by another employer for his wonderful talent”.
Schools Week can exclusively reveal that Mr Smith has been recruited to become the new chief executive officer of Future Academies, set up and chaired by Lord Nash, a junior schools minister. The trust runs four schools in Westminster, central London.
Dr Jo Saxton, the trust’s current chief executive, said in a statement: “We are delighted that Paul Smith is joining Future Academies; he’s committed to our trust’s values of knowledge, aspiration and respect, and will work to help us to continue to improve the education and life chances of even more children.
“His background as a national leader of education, principal of a teaching school, school inspector and, latterly, as an RSC, mean he is the ideal candidate to help our trust to expand.”
It is not the first time Lord Nash has recruited from within the department. Last year, non-executive director Theodore Agnew joined Future Academies as a director, but later resigned.
Schools minister Nick Gibb was quizzed about Mr Smith’s departure in July during the committee stage of the education bill, which is set to hand more powers to RSCs.
He said: “RSCs are very talented people… People of his talent are sought after in the education world, and I suspect many of the RSCs will be approached by all kinds of education organisations because of their ability and talent.
“I hope that won’t happen. On this occasion it has happened and we’re very grateful for the tremendous work he’s carried out.”
Mr Smith looks set to boost his salary: he was paid between £110,000 and £114,999 for his government role, while annual accounts show that Dr Saxton earned between £130,000 and £135,000 last year.
Mr Smith took on the RSC role in August last year after leaving his post as executive principal at Parbold Douglas Church of England Academy and Teaching School near Wigan, Greater Manchester.
When asked about his new role, Mr Smith told Schools Week: “I am very happy and excited to be joining Future Academies at this important time. Whilst I have greatly enjoyed my time as RSC, working with officials from the DfE and stakeholders in the region to raise standards, I felt it was the right time for me to return to the ‘chalk face’.
“I look forward to working with all at Future Academies to continue their drive to raise standards and improve the life chances of many children and young people which they already do so successfully.”
One of the original eight RSCs, it is believed he will leave his post in December. The Department for Education has advertised for a replacement and is due to interview shortlisted candidates early this month.