ESFA sees its powers curtailed
The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) will see its powers significantly reduced, following a Government review.
A number of areas where the ESFA previously had oversight, will now move to the Department for Education (DfE), including academy and post-16 policy matters.
However, the DfE has confirmed that the ESFA will keep its funding, assurance and compliance remit.
Permanent Secretary, Susan Acland Hood, has said the slimmed down remit will “allow the ESFA to continue to focus on making sure that public funds are properly spent”.
It is also understood that the DfE intends to hand over full control of education funding and grant management, which will see the agency become responsible for £8 billion of public money. However, further details of whether this will affect routine maintained school funding and specific grants has yet to be confirmed.
The ESFA will hand over its responsibilities for academy governance, safeguarding, new trusts and schools, university technical college engagement, and networking events to the DfE’s regional teams.
Furthermore, the DfE has said that in future the Academy Trust Handbook could return to direct DfE control unless the ESFA decides to strip down the handbook to cover financial matters only.
The decision to scale back the ESFA’s remit follows a review by Independent Lead Reviewer, Sir David Bell, Vice Chancellor of the University of Sunderland.
In his report, Bell estimates the root and branch review of the ESFA will lead to a reduction in staff at the agency – down to between 750 and 800 compared with 1,749 team members currently employed there.
Bell states that the ESFA is “often treated more as a part of the core department than as an executive agency” and that, as a result, the DfE currently “has no direct mechanisms” to oversee ESFA in a formal way.
As part of the overhaul, Mike Green, the DfE’s Chief Operating Officer, will be appointed as the ESFA’s Senior Sponsor. Contact us for advice.