Meet the man at the top of the academy tree

Academies have not had a great press recently. Amid stories about failed MATssoaring salaries and conflicts of interest, the DfE has struggled to get across its messages about its flagship schools policy. Tes reports.

But now, the sector has a new figure at its helm, and he intends to shout about its successes.

“I want to celebrate more – not in a glitzy marketing way – just what’s good,” says Dominic Herrington, who became interim national schools commissioner (NSC) in September.

“I was in an academy a couple of weeks ago in Croydon,” the civil servant says. “Just a really small junior school that had been in special measures but became an academy and is now a good school, and that leader wouldn’t put her head above the parapet. But she’s changed children’s lives.”

Herrington’s DfE biography suggests that although he taught English as a foreign language in Spain, he – like Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman – has not taught in schools in England. The DfE did not dispel this impression despite being several opportunities to do so. 

However, Herrington has previously held positions in universities and the DfE, and has experience as a school governor.

Although the DfE will only say that more details on his status as “interim” NSC will be announced “in due course”, many in the sector expect Herrington to keep the job on a permanent basis. He certainly doesn’t talk like a man who is only there for the short term.

In this, his first big set-piece interview since taking on the role, he is slick, confident and well-briefed, closely following the lines of his ministerial bosses, and needing little help from the two DfE press officers sent to accompany him.

When asked about his priorities, the RSC system is first on his list. He says he wants “an unashamedly operational focus on making the RSC system, which is bedded in now, work really, really well”.

“My job is to support and challenge [the RSCs], to advise, coach, mentor them, to be going around the country, getting alongside them and working with their teams and making sure that our operation – if you like, our work – is as tight, efficient, consistent as it needs to be.”

Read the full article Meet the man at the top of the academy tree

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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