Will Bickford Smith, a key architect of the government’s teacher training reforms, has returned to the Department for Education eight months after leaving for a university job.
The Teach First alumnus and founder of Conservative Teachers is once again a schools policy adviser to education secretary Gillian Keegan, leading on school standards, teaching and the curriculum.
Bickford Smith left the role at the end of September last year after around three years in post to become an adviser to the vice-chancellor of the University of Exeter.
His re-appointment to the non-political civil service role follows the departure of several of Keegan’s key advisers.
Schools Week reported earlier this month that three senior policy advisers – Dr Tim Leunig, David Thomas and Patrick Spencer – had either left or announced plans to leave in the space of a few weeks.
Bickford Smith was, along with current DfE special adviser Rory Gribbell, one of the key architects of the government’s teacher training reforms.
He told Schools Week last year there was a “really good story to tell” about the government’s progress.
But forcing all ITT providers to re-apply for accreditation has sparked a backlash, with some top-rated providers snubbed and fears it will exacerbate recruitment woes.
Upon leaving the DfE last September, Bickford Smith also joined the board of Teach First. However, records show he stood down earlier this month.
His schools policy adviser role, which had remained empty since October, is different to the senior policy adviser job vacated by David Thomas earlier this month. Schools Week understands that role is yet to be filled.
The DfE and Bickford Smith declined to comment.