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
• 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.
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 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
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.
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
About the ESFA Audit and Risk Committee
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:
• Assurances relating to the management of risk and corporate governance
requirements for the organisation
o the scope and objectives of the work of the Government Internal Audit
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
• Anti-fraud policies, whistle-blowing processes, and arrangements for special
• Any issue requiring escalation to the Department for Education’s Audit and Risk
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.
Please see a list of all current ESFA ARC members in Annex 2 of the Candidate pack
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
• 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
• 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
• 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
• Finance and accounting in a public setting
• Banking experience in debt capacity, monitoring and repayment of loans