Further Education Commissioner

Body: Further Education Commissioner's Team
Appointing Department: Department for Education
Sector: Education
Location: No set location, but the role would require travel throughout England and frequent meetings in London
Skills required: Change Management, Regulation, Transformation
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: £135,000 per annum
Time Requirements: Four days per week.


An announcement has been made on the outcome of this appointment.

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Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications

    20/11/2020 at 11:00

  • Panel Sift


  • Final Interview Date


  • Announcement

    Late March or April 2021


Assessment Panel

Vacancy Description

The role of FE Commissioner was created in 2013 as an independent adviser to ministers.  The Commissioner is a public appointment by the Secretary of State for Education and reports to the skills minister Gillian Keegan. The FE Commissioner, working closely with colleagues in the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) supports improvement in our national network of further education and sixth form  colleges, as well as working with local authorities, specialist designated institutions and other organisations – to deliver high quality outcomes for learners, and to meet local economic need.

The FE Commissioner leads a team of around 18 deputy FE commissioners and FE advisers, made up mainly of former FE college principals or deputy principals and directors of finance. The structure and role of the team that the FE Commissioner leads has developed continually since 2013, and we expect you as the new appointee to have a pivotal role in shaping the future structure of the function.

Key responsibilities

College support and intervention

As FE Commissioner, you and your team will take a key role in working with colleges to improve the quality of education for learners, strengthen financial resilience, improve the quality of leadership and reduce the risk of colleges requiring interventions. You will do so as an integrated part of the Department for Education (DfE)’s overall approach to intervention, within the context of the ESFA case management approach. As such you will work closely with key teams within ESFA, as well as the wider DfE and Ofsted. You will also work alongside broader partners including the Education and Training Foundation, the Association of Colleges, the Sixth Form Colleges Association and other representative groups, as well as with employers and employer representatives.

Our intent as part of our broader reforms to the FE system is that all colleges should move to a regular strategic dialogue with the ESFA, supported by your practitioner expertise as FE Commissioner, around their strategic opportunities and risks and how they most effectively meet local economic and learner need. We intend to further develop recent changes to move beyond a focus on addressing failure, or risk of failure, working with all colleges across the sector to support excellence.

Where necessary, you will undertake formal interventions when serious weaknesses and risk of failure have been identified, including assessing the capacity of the existing governance and leadership to deliver rapid, sustainable improvement, and making recommendations to secure improvement.

You and your team will also be involved in providing advice on the development and/or delivery of programmes such as the College Collaboration Fund (CCF) and the FE capital investment programme, and other future programmes which may have an impact on the FE sector.

You will recruit and deploy national leaders of further education (NLFEs) and national leaders of governance (NLGs) for further education to support college leaders and governors.

Overseeing local improvement and ensuring local skills needs are met

You will play a key role in driving forward the programme of FE reform that the Secretary of State for Education announced in July 2020. You will also be central to ensuring that the right, high quality further education provision is available locally across the country. This currently includes leading structural reviews to examine options for achieving excellent provision where the issues in a local area cannot be solved by looking at individual institutions in isolation. It also includes leading structure and prospects appraisals (SPAs), to assess options around how to change a college’s structure and provision where the evidence shows that this is needed. This approach is likely to evolve further in line with our broader FE reform programme, including recommending restructuring provision in a locality encompassing several colleges.

Working with system leaders to bring FE practitioner expertise into government and share best practice across the sector

As FE Commissioner, you will be a key advisor to DfE ministers, providing guidance and advice about the sector directly into government. You will also chair the Principals’ Reference Group, made up of leading college principals, who advise ministers regularly on sector developments. You will communicate regularly with the FE sector, sharing news and best practice.


Person Specification

Applicants will be assessed against the following criteria.  In your application you should demonstrate clearly how you meet each of the following requirements of the post.

 We want you to apply if you:

  • are or have very recently been an FE sector leader with a national profile and an outstanding and extensive track record of college leadership or leadership of major organisations within the sector;
  • can show how you have generated improvement, including financial improvement, across the sector by working with other colleges and providers;
  • have exceptional communication skills and the ability to work with, influence, persuade and engage stakeholders at the highest levels, from principals and chairs of FE providers, to ministers and senior civil servants, to employers and employer representatives. This includes sometimes leading challenging and sensitive conversations to secure change;
  • have the ability to lead a team of highly experienced FE professionals in taking the appropriate course of action at FE colleges across the country.


How to Apply

The closing date for applications is 20th November at 11.00am.

Information on the timetable for this campaign, selection process, requisite security clearance, and the Advisory Assessment Panel can be found on the Centre for Public Appointments website: https://publicappointments.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/

Please submit the following documents by email to: PublicAppointments.APPLICATIONS@education.gov.uk

  • A CV.
  • Candidate application form. You will need to demonstrate clearly how you meet each of the essential criteria (max 300 words per criteria – if this is exceeded only the first 300 words will be considered).
  • Diversity form.

Please include the vacancy title in the subject box and submit each application document as a separate attachment.

We are happy to accept applications in alternative formats from applicants who, for reasons of disability, may find it difficult to fill in our standard form. If you would like to have a chat with us about reasonable adjustments please contact us at: PublicAppointments.APPLICATIONS@education.gov.uk

Please note the following:

  • we cannot accept applications submitted after the closing date;
  • applications will be assessed solely on the documentation provided; please refer to the advert and checklist above to ensure you have provided everything requested;
  • applications will be acknowledged upon receipt;
  • feedback will only be given to candidates unsuccessful following interview.


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