Sir Kevan Collins appointed to non-executive board at DfE

Former EEF boss and catch up tsar will advise Phillipson on raising school standards

Former EEF boss and catch up tsar will advise Phillipson on raising school standards

Sir Kevan Collins, the former head of the Education Endowment Foundation and ex-government catch-up tsar, has become a non-executive board member at the Department for Education to fulfil his new role as school standards adviser.

The DfE said Collins, a former teacher and director of children’s services in Tower Hamlets, would “provide scrutiny and advice on government’s delivery of high and rising standards in schools”.

Ministers have also announced a restructure of the DfE to place responsibility for special educational needs and disabilities and alternative provision within its schools group “to ensure that we deliver improvements to inclusion within mainstream schools”.

The two policy areas previously sat under a children and families brief. It is not clear if this means Catherine McKinnell, the new schools minister, will also take on responsibility for SEND and AP, or if another minister will be tasked with the challenge.

Non-executive board members are appointed from outside government to provide “support and challenge to government departments”.

Collins previously advised the Conservative government on education recovery, but resigned after ministers refused to fund his package of proposals.

As part of his new role, Collins will “advise on driving high and rising standards – focusing on finding solutions to the biggest barriers to opportunity for children, including teacher shortages and high absence rates”.

“The government has been clear that the education and care system does not currently meet the needs of all children, particularly those with special educational needs and disabilities – with earlier interventions in mainstream schools key for those with less complex needs.”

‘An outstanding force for good’

Education secretary Bridget Phillipson, said: “Our push for high and rising standards across our state schools began on day one, with first steps including recruiting 6,500 new teachers.

“I have moved quickly to make sure my department can deliver on our mission to break down the barriers to opportunity so every child has the best start in life.”

She said Collins “has been an outstanding force for good in schools, especially his work advocating for our teachers and children during the pandemic and he will play a crucial role in advising the Department”. 

Collins said he was “delighted to be returning to the Department of Education.

“There are real challenges facing our schools and I am looking forward to being part of a renewed drive to ensure that we tackle these with bold and fresh new ideas, to deliver high and rising standards in every corner of the country.”

The DfE said Collins’s appointment had been approved by the Commissioner for Public Appointments, and his three-year term had begun with “immediate effect”.

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