Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan today (25 September 2014) announced the appointment of former Chief Inspector of Schools Sir Mike Tomlinson as the new education commissioner for Birmingham.
Sir Mike will work jointly with Birmingham City Council to oversee improvements to the standards of education in the city. His appointment follows Peter Clarke’s report into allegations of extremism in Birmingham schools, which found evidence of a determined effort by a small number of people with a shared ideology to gain control and influence of the governing bodies of some schools in the city. As a result the Secretary of State decided to appoint an education commissioner to work with Birmingham City Council, reporting jointly to her and to the chief executive of the council, Mark Rogers.
This appointment builds on progress already made in improving these schools. The trustees at the 3 academies overseen by Park View Educational Trust (PVET) and at Oldknow Academy have been replaced, and the new boards have worked tirelessly to ensure their schools opened to pupils in September. An interim executive principal for PVET and an interim principal to Golden Hillock have both been appointed and the former principal of Oldknow Academy has returned. Saltley School, whose governors were criticised in the reports, now has an approved interim executive board in place to drive forward improvements.
More widely, the government is introducing a requirement for all schools to actively promote the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.
Sir Mike’s appointment will help secure necessary change in Birmingham. His main responsibilities will be to:
- make sure that Birmingham Council drives immediate improvements in those schools highlighted in recent reports and work with any others which may be vulnerable
- embed improvements into the council’s structures, building a credible and effective role for them in supporting the city’s schools
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said:
I am pleased that we have been able to appoint someone of Sir Mike Tomlinson’s calibre and experience to this crucial role.
With his strong track record in local government and education he is the right person to ensure all children in Birmingham receive the education they deserve so they can reach their potential and go on to build a better future.
His skills and experience will help deliver rapid and sustainable progress within Birmingham City Council so they are unified in driving up the quality of schools and school oversight in the region.
Sir Mike has been involved in education for almost 50 years, most notably as Chief Inspector of Schools between 2000 and 2002. He was also chief adviser to the London Challenge and chair of the Hackney Learning Trust, which helped transform poor performing education services in Hackney.
Sir Mike said:
It is vital that children in Birmingham receive the highest standards of education and I will be working hard towards that goal.
I look forward to working closely with Birmingham City Council and we will be making rapid improvements in the coming weeks and months to provide reassurance to parents, pupils and the local community.
The education commissioner will attend the fortnightly meetings of the ‘quartet’ - consisting of:
- leader of the council Sir Albert Bore
- chief executive Mark Rogers
- cabinet member for children and family services Brigid Jones
- strategic director for people Peter Hay
The team is already driving through the improvements to children’s services.
Chief executive Mark Rogers said:
The Education Secretary’s appointment of Sir Mike Tomlinson is a good decision for Birmingham. His experience and reputation give us confidence that we will be constructively supported and challenged in our efforts to move forward at pace from the recent controversies.
We have already had a positive experience of working with our safeguarding commissioner, Lord Warner, and we look forward to an equally productive relationship with Sir Mike in his new role.
While the commissioner will focus on the council’s role in providing education services, his work will feed into the wider review of Birmingham’s governance that Sir Bob Kerslake will conduct this autumn.
Sir Mike’s appointment is for a year, during which time he will report frequently to the Education Secretary and the chief executive of Birmingham City Council to provide regular assurances that sufficient progress is being made.
Notes to editors
Biography for Sir Mike Tomlinson:
Sir Mike has more than 4 decades of experience in education, having begun teaching in 1965. On the creation of Ofsted in 1992 he became Deputy Director of Inspection, before becoming Director of Inspection in 1995 and HM Chief Inspector in 2000, serving until 2002.
He became chair of Hackney Learning Trust in 2002, overseeing the area’s education service until 2007. He also has been chief adviser for London Schools and chair of the National Challenge programme.
He has been a trustee of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, helping to establish university technical colleges, and recently led a commission on behalf of Camden into the future relationship between the local authority and its schools. He has served as a governor of both a school and a university.
Sir Mike was knighted for services to education in 2005. His citation noted his work for the A level standards inquiry between 2002 and 2004 and his work on 14 to 19 reform, as well as for services to Hackney schools.
We have worked closely with Birmingham City Council to develop a clear set of terms of reference for the commissioner, which address the issues highlighted in the Peter Clarke report.
Education commissioner in Birmingham : terms of reference
The Secretary of State for Education has decided to appoint an education commissioner within Birmingham City council. The commissioner will oversee the council’s actions to address the fundamental criticisms in the Kershaw and Clarke reports while building resilience in the system as a whole. The commissioner will be accountable to and report jointly to the Secretary of State for Education and the chief executive of Birmingham City Council and will report monthly on progress.
The commissioner will:
- assure the Secretary of State that the council has an effective single integrated improvement plan in Birmingham, which will focus on:
- making immediate improvements in those schools highlighted in the recent reports, and any others which may be vulnerable
- embedding improvements into the council’s structures, building a credible and effective role for the council in supporting the city’s schools
- hold senior council officers to account on achieving the deliverables, milestones and targets in the plan, and ensure that it has a strong operational focus that will deliver change at pace
- ensure that Birmingham City Council prioritises safeguarding and governance concerns in the plan, and that effective whistleblowing processes are put in place
- act as an ‘internal challenger’ within the council, and commission deeper investigations into areas requiring further consideration
- consider and advise the Secretary of State on whether any structural changes are needed within the council in the longer term
The commissioner will be supported by a team led by deputy commissioner Colin Diamond, who has experience as a senior official in the Department for Education and as a director of children’s services. He will play the lead day-to-day role working with the council and with schools to ensure that the commissioner’s objectives are secured.