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Role details

Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) Audit and Risk Committee (ARC) Non-Executive Director

Application deadline 17 February 2023


Education & Skills Funding Agency
Sponsor department
Department for Education
Audit and Risk, Change Management
Number of vacancies
Time commitment
8 day(s) per annum
£500 per meeting
Length of term
3 years
Application deadline
11:55pm on 17 February 2023

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Timeline for this appointment

  1. Opening date

    23 January 2023

  2. Application deadline

    11:55pm on 17 February 2023

  3. Sifting date

    24 March 2023

  4. Interviews expected to end on

    12 May 2023

Timeline dates are only an estimate and can change

About the role


About the ESFA 
The Education and Skills Funding Agency is accountable for funding education and skills for children, young people, and adults. . In 2021-22, ESFA successfully distributed £65 billion of funding to education and skills providers. This included new funding streams to help mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, contributing to a total of £1.145billion of educational recovery funding, helping learners catch up on lost learning. 
The agency was reviewed as part of the Public Bodies programme in 2021/2022 and has undergone changes to its remit and size as a result. The Review Summary Report and the Department’s Response to the Recommendations can be viewed here.
 Following the review, the agency is more tightly focused on funding delivery, with key aims to ensure that it remains effective, efficient, accountable, and aligned to DfE and wider government priorities. ESFA achieves its purpose through:
 • Delivering accurate, timely and efficient funding to education providers
• Ensuring public funds are properly spent to protect taxpayers’ money and ensure value for money 
 • Utilising financial insight and expertise to advise, detect and prevent misuse of funds
 • Building the financial capabilities across the education sector by providing practical informative guidance and support 
 • Working closely with the Regions group in DfE to operate proportionate regulation and oversight of the sector 
 ESFA’s strategic outcomes are currently:
: • Certainty – Those who ESFA fund have certainty in their funding, enabling them to plan effectively
 • Support – Those who ESFA fund can access high quality support and guidance, protecting against financial difficulty 
 • Assurance – Taxpayers money is used for its intended purpose See more detail on this in Annex 1. 
 Further Information More detail on the ESFA can be found on GOV.UK

Introduction from the Secretary of State

From Rt. Hon. Gillian Keegan, Secretary of State for Education
Education opens doors and shapes the lives of children, young people, and adults. It is an integral part of the levelling up agenda – ensuring that every child, young person, and adult can realise their full potential. This is our core objective as the Department for Education (DfE). As an Executive Agency of DfE, the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) shares and supports this objective through its successful delivery and assurance of funding for learners of all ages across England. 
To support this, we are seeking to appoint a high calibre Non-Executive Director for ESFA’s Audit & Risk Committee (ARC). The Non-Executive Director will be central to supporting executive decision making and providing strong strategic aims and standards. We are seeking applicants with significant experience and expertise to bring to ESFA’s ARC discussions, and those who will be committed to driving forward the work of the organisation.
 Thank you for your interest and for taking the time to read this candidate pack. If you have the skills and experience described below, I hope that you will apply. My department is focused on equality of opportunity, and I am committed to ensuring that Board appointments better represent the views of the communities which they serve. I therefore particularly encourage applications from women, people with disabilities and neurodivergence, LGBT+ candidates and those from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Introduction from the Chair

From David Withey, Chief Executive Officer for the Education and Skills Funding Agency 
The ESFA is one of the largest funding operations across Government. We are responsible for delivering £67bn of funding to more than 24,700 providers across the education and skills sectors. We are accountable for 1 in every £10 spent by the UK Government and we hope to ensure that every pound spent on education and skills has the greatest possible impact on ensuring that all learners can reach their potential. We do this by providing:
• certainty about funding, enabling providers to plan effectively
 • support to those we fund to access high quality support and guidance, protecting against financial difficulty • assurance that taxpayer’s money is used for its intended purpose.
 You will be joining the agency at a crucial time. Following an Arm’s Length Body review in 2021 the agency has a clearer focus on delivery. We have just launched our new strategic purpose and are looking to play a stronger role in building partnerships with the sector to support effective financial management, alongside our crucial regulatory-type functions. 
 Working closely with my leadership team and other NEDs, you will provide advice, support and challenge to the agency. I am really proud of the work that we do and really delighted to lead an agency that plays such a critical role in ensuring good outcomes for children and learners.
 I look forward to working closely with the successful candidate, receiving robust support and challenge to help achieve the agency’s vision. 

Role description

ESFA wishes to recruit an individual who will form part of their Audit and Risk Committee as a Non-Executive Director. Members will be expected to participate fully in the ESFA ARC’s business, by:
• Promoting sound corporate governance within the ESFA
• Considering GIAA’s internal audit strategy and plans for the agency, and reviewing their annual reports and assurance on corporate governance, risk management and internal control
• Considering plans, reports, management letters and any other matters, from the National Audit Office (NAO)
• Considering reports on business areas from senior ESFA officials to provide the committee with assurance on the management of major risks to the ESFA
• Reviewing the ESFA Resource Accounts and advising the Accounting Officer on the appropriateness of the draft governance statement, prior to submission to the NAO
The successful candidate will agree to comply with the Code of Practice for Board Members, and the Cabinet Office Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies

Organisation description

About the ESFA Audit and Risk Committee (ARC)
ESFA’s ARC is a sub-committee of the ESFA Management Board, established to support them in their responsibilities for issues of risk, control and governance. ARC does this by reviewing the comprehensiveness of assurances in meeting the board and Chief Executive Officer’s (CEO) needs and reviewing the reliability and integrity of these assurances. 
ESFA’s ARC advises the Board and CEO on: 
• The strategic processes for risk, control, and governance, including controls for securing efficiency and effectiveness within providers funded by ESFA 
• ESFA’s annual governance statement, including advice on the reliability, integrity and scope of assurances used to inform the statement and any significant control issues which should be disclosed
 • ESFA’s annual report and accounts, including the process for review of the accounts prior to submission for audit, levels of error identified and management’s letter of representation to the external auditors 
• The planned activity and results of both internal and external audit, including: 
o the scope and objectives of the work of the Government Internal Audit Agency (GIAA) 
o the GIAA’s annual assurance statement, the annual report on risk analysis activities and any control issues identified in the National Audit Office (NAO) reports
 o the adequacy of management responses to issues identified by the GIAA, NAO, and other assurance activities 
o relevant performance measures and indicators for the GIAA; and the monitoring of the work of the function through these measures and indicators
 • Assurances relating to the management of risk and corporate governance requirements for the organisation
 • Anti-fraud policies, whistle-blowing processes, and arrangements for special investigations 
• Any issue requiring escalation to the Department for Education’s Audit and Risk Committee
 The role for ESFA’s ARC Chair is also being advertised alongside this role. The ARC Chair is also a Non-Executive Director of ESFA’s Management Board. 

Board composition

Please see a list of all current ESFA ARC members in Annex 2 of the Candidate pack

Person specification

Essential criteria

Are you a confident individual who can think both broadly and independently; do you have experience of considering issues from a strategic perspective; do you have experience of working flexibly to respond to the changing needs and priorities of an organisation; do you have the ability to use this strategic perspective to support and challenge ESFA’s Board Chair, and Executive Team in their planning and risk management? If so, we would like to hear from you. We are focused on equality of opportunity for all, and particularly welcome applications from women, people with disabilities and neurodivergence, LGBT+ candidates and those from ethnic minority backgrounds. 
Candidates will be asked to present evidence of the following essential criteria throughout the selection process:
• Strong knowledge and experience of risk management
 • Previous experience of working as a Non-Executive Director on public/private sector boards 
 • Strong knowledge and experience of assurance, compliance, and control in complex organisations
 • Experience of strategic finance and finance operations, at a senior level in a business or other organisation, with good understanding of effective financial management disciplines.
 • Knowledge and experience of governance, risk management, assurance, compliance, and control in complex organisations. 
• Experience related to organisational effectiveness and design (covering process design and management, programme & project delivery, systems implementation, customer service, results focus & management information).
 • The ability to consider issues strategically, contributing to strategic development with high standards of objectivity and integrity.
 • Experience in digital/technology including security and business continuity. 
• Effective communication and relationship building, including the ability to influence, challenge and listen sensitively to the views of others
The lead criterion for this role is Strong knowledge and experience of risk management.

Desirable criteria

 • Education sector expertise, including previous experience working with education providers (for example schools, academy trusts, colleges etc)
 • Commercial/handling of contracts in large scale organisations or a public setting 
• Finance and accounting in a public setting 
• Banking experience in debt capacity, monitoring and repayment of loans

Application and selection process

How to apply

Suitably qualified candidates are asked to submit:

  •  A completed personal details form including a completed Diversity Monitoring form, contact details (including email address) for two professional referees available, details of any conflict of interest and political activity. 
  •  A comprehensive CV and a separate statement of suitability, of not more than two sides of A4 (using Arial, font size 12), which outlines how you meet the requirements of the role

Applications should be sent to:

Advisory Assessment Panel (AAP)

Panel 1
Martin Spencer - Representative of organisation- ESFA Management Board Chair

Panel 2
Leanna Green - Departmental Official - Director Central Operations Directorate

Panel 3
Ian Bauckham - Independent Member- Ofqual Chair

Panel 4
Advisory Assessment Panels (AAP) are chosen by ministers to assist them in their decision-making. These include a departmental official and an independent member. For competitions recruiting non-executive members of a board (apart from the Chair), the panel will usually include a representative from the public body concerned.
AAP’s perform a number of functions, including agreeing an assessment strategy with ministers, undertaking sifting, carrying out interviews in line with the advertised criteria and deciding objectively who meets the published selection criteria for the role before recommending to ministers which candidates they find appointable. It is then for the minister to decide who to appoint to the role.

Additional information for candidates

Equality and diversity

We encourage applications from talented individuals from all backgrounds and across the whole of the United Kingdom. Boards of public bodies are most effective when they reflect the diversity of views of the society they serve and this is an important part of the Government’s levelling up agenda.
We collect data about applicants’ characteristics and backgrounds, including information about people’s educational and professional backgrounds, so that we can make sure we are attracting a broad range of people to these roles and that our selection processes are fair for everyone. Without this information, it makes it difficult to see if our outreach is working, if the application process is having an unfair impact on certain groups and whether changes are making a positive difference.
When you submit your application, your responses are collected by the Cabinet Office and the government department(s) managing your application. The data is used to produce management information about the diversity of applicants. You can select “prefer not to say” to any question you do not wish to answer. 

Disability confident

We are a member of the Government’s Disability Confident scheme. We use the Disability Confident scheme symbol, along with other like-minded employers, to show our commitment to good practice in employing people with a disability. The scheme helps recruit and retain disabled people. 
As part of implementing the scheme, we guarantee an interview for anyone with a disability whose application meets the essential criteria for the role, set out in the advert, and who has asked that their application is considered under the scheme. Indicating that you wish your application to be considered under the scheme will in no way prejudice your application. By ‘minimum criteria,’ we mean that you must provide evidence which demonstrates that you meet the level of competence required under each of the essential criteria, as set out in the job-advert.
When you apply you will have the opportunity to select if you would like your application considered under this scheme.

Reasonable adjustments

We are committed to making reasonable adjustments to make sure applicants with disabilities, physical or mental health conditions, or other needs are not substantially disadvantaged when applying for public appointments. This can include changing the recruitment process to enable people who wish to apply to do so.
Some examples of common changes are:
  • ensuring that application forms are available in different or accessible formats;
  • making adaptations to interview locations;
  • allowing candidates to present their skills and experience in a different way;
  • giving additional detailed information on the selection / interview process in advance to allow candidates time to prepare themselves;
  • allowing support workers, for example sign language interpreters;
  • making provision for support animals to attend.
When you apply you will have the opportunity to request reasonable adjustments to the application process.

Principles of public life

Holders of public office are expected to adhere to and uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life

Code of conduct for board members

The Government expects all holders of public office to work to the highest personal and professional standards. In support of this, all non-executive board members of UK public bodies must abide by the principles set out in the Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies. The Code sets out the standards expected from those who serve on the boards of UK public bodies and will form part of your terms and conditions of appointment.

Appointment and tenure of office

Appointments are for the term set out in this advert, with the possibility of re-appointment for a further term, at the discretion of Ministers.  Any re-appointment is subject to satisfactory annual appraisals of performance during the first term in the post. There is no automatic presumption of reappointment; each case should be considered on its own merits, taking into account a number of factors including, but not restricted to, the diversity of the current board and its balance of skills and experience. In most cases, the total time served in post will not exceed more than two terms or serve in any one post for more than ten years

Remuneration, allowances and abatement

Members of the committee will receive a ‘per meeting’ payment of £500 which should cover all costs in relation to attendance of meetings. No other expenses will be paid.

Pension and redundancy

This is an office holder appointment and does not attract any benefits under any Civil Service Pension Scheme. You will not be eligible for redundancy pay as you are not an employee. No other arrangements have been made for compensation upon the end of your term of appointment because an office holder who is appointed for a limited duration would have no expectation of serving beyond that period.

Application feedback

We will notify you of the status of your application. We regret that we are only able to offer detailed feedback to candidates who have been unsuccessful at the interview stage.

How to complain

We aim to process all applications as quickly as possible and to treat all applicants with courtesy.
Please contact the Sponsorship team in the first instance.(
 if you would like to make a complaint regarding your application, please contact  ( They will acknowledge your complaint upon receipt and respond within 15 working days.

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