About us

What we do

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 (HTB). HTBs 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

DfE appoints RSCs for their extensive knowledge of the education sector within their regions. They typically have backgrounds as highly experienced academy headteachers, chief executives of multi-academy trusts (MATs) or leaders in education.

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

Each RSC has a regional vision statement, which describes their aims and commitments in fulfilling their responsibilities within their region.

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.

Headteacher boards

Headteacher boards (HTBs) are responsible for advising their RSC, contributing their local knowledge and professional expertise to help the RSC’s decision-making. This can involve assessing school performance data, reviewing the governance structure of a new multi-academy trust or challenging a school’s improvement plan. In some cases, HTB members also carry out additional duties for RSCs in their regions. RSCs and HTBs also make use of local networks to gather information to support their decisions.

Each HTB is made up of 4 to 8 members. HTB members are generally headteachers, former headteachers, trustees or business leaders. Local academy headteachers elect 4 members on each HTB. Each HTB member, no matter how they are appointed, has equal status.

A complete guide to HTB membership is available in the HTB terms of reference (PDF, 126KB, 4 pages) .

HTBs generally meet 1 or 2 times a month.

You can see a membership list and meeting minutes, which include discussion points and decisions, for each HTB:

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, or may be seen as, influencing an RSC’s or HTB member’s judgement in performing their role. These may include:

  • schools that they have direct responsibility for (in roles such as headteacher or executive headteacher)
  • academy trusts that they work for or are a member of the governing body
  • all schools that are members of their affiliated academy trusts
  • schools of which they are a member of 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 are a board member (including if they are for-profit or are registered charities)
  • any other establishments of which they are 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 they have provided advice for
  • organisations they were previously affiliated to
  • 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, 63.5KB) .

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