About us

The National Schools Commissioner and regional schools commissioners work with school leaders to take action in underperforming schools.

Regional schools commissioners (RSCs) act on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education and are accountable to the National Schools Commissioner.

Each RSC is supported by a headteacher board. Headteacher boards are made up of experienced academy headteachers and other sector leaders who advise and challenge RSCs on the decisions they make.

RSCs also work closely with a number of partners.

RSCs’ main responsibilities include:

  • taking action where academies and free schools are underperforming
  • intervening in academies where governance is inadequate
  • deciding on applications from local-authority-maintained schools to convert to academy status
  • improving underperforming maintained schools by providing them with support from a strong sponsor
  • encouraging and deciding on applications from sponsors to operate in a region
  • taking action to improve poorly performing sponsors
  • advising on proposals for new free schools
  • advising on whether to cancel, defer or enter into funding agreements with free school projects
  • deciding on applications to make significant changes to academies and free schools

Read more about RSCs’ responsibilities in the RSC decision making framework (PDF, 365KB, 12 pages) .

The schools causing concern guidance explains in more detail the action that RSCs may take when maintained schools, academies, free schools or university technical colleges are underperforming.

Who we are

RSCs typically have backgrounds as experienced headteachers, chief executives of multi-academy trusts (MATs), or as leaders in education, or across the wider public sector.

There are 8 RSCs that operate across 8 regions in England:

Who we work with

RSCs work closely with a number of partners, including leaders from the education sector, Ofsted, local authorities and local dioceses.

Rather than intervening directly, RSCs commission teaching schools, national leaders in education, MATs and other leaders in education to improve underperforming schools.

Ofsted is responsible for inspecting and reporting on the quality of education that schools provide. RSCs decide whether intervention is necessary based on Ofsted’s inspection results and accountability measures for school performance. The RSCs work with the relevant Ofsted regional directors to make sure that appropriate information is shared.

Working with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA)

RSCs and the ESFA work together to develop a coherent and joined up picture of a trust that considers:

  • educational performance (led by RSCs)
  • finance (led by ESFA)
  • governance (RSCs and ESFA both contribute)

RSCs and ESFA work with members, trustees and leadership teams to:

  • build school improvement capacity and financial expertise
  • support better resource management
  • strengthen governance oversight at leadership and board level

RSCs engage with trusts to ensure strong processes are in place to maintain and improve educational performance. They’ll intervene where there is an inadequate Ofsted judgement.

ESFA takes a proportionate, risk-based approach and will intervene if the trust does not comply with the funding agreement and academies financial handbook.

In cases of failure both RSCs and ESFA may issue formal intervention notices. This may require the submission of a:

  • trust school improvement plan
  • financial recovery plan agreed between the trust and ESFA

RSCs and ESFA work together to build leadership and governance capability in trusts. This involves optional activities such as networks, conferences, and signposting to resources and external organisations.

Headteacher boards

Headteacher boards are responsible for advising and challenging regional schools commissioners on academy related decisions.

Details including members lists, meeting schedules, preparation templates and notes are available on the headteacher board page.

Find out more about academies and free schools

If you’re a local-authority-maintained school, information is available about converting to an academy.

You can also read about opening a free school.

Complain about an RSC’s decision

If you want to make a complaint about an RSC’s decision, please email SchoolsCommissioner.PS@education.gov.uk.

Please provide us with as much detail as you can to help us investigate your complaint:

  • say which RSC you’re referring to
  • say what the problem is
  • say what you want to happen
  • provide information on any relevant communication with us on the subject, including, for example, any reference numbers on letters or emails, and the times and dates of any conversations

We’ll investigate all formal complaints in line with the Department for Education’s complaints procedure.

Information on complaining about a school or an academy is also available.

Register of interest

We define these interests as any personal or business interest within the past 5 years which may be, or may be seen to be, influencing an RSC’s or headteacher board member’s judgement in performing their role. These interests may include:

  • schools that they have direct responsibility for (in roles such as headteacher or executive headteacher)
  • academy trusts for which they work or serve on the governing body
  • all schools that are members of their affiliated academy trusts
  • schools for which they serve on the governing body
  • applications for free schools or academy conversions that they have submitted that are still awaiting decision
  • organisations involved in education, or organisations providing educational services, for which they work or serve as a board member (including for-profit and registered charities)
  • any other establishments for which they serve as a board member (including the type of organisation)

Other potential conflicts of interest include:

  • schools that they, their trust or their school have formally or informally supported
  • free school or academy conversion applications for which they have provided advice
  • organisations to which they were previously affiliated
  • any other organisations with which they are involved that may influence, or could be perceived to influence, their professional judgement in any way

See the register of interest for the National Schools Commissioner, regional schools commissioners and headteacher board members (MS Excel Spreadsheet, 87KB) .

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