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Role details

Non-Executive Director - Department for Education Board

Application deadline 15 April 2024


Department for Education Departmental Board
Sponsor department
Department for Education
Accountancy, Audit and Risk, Business, Change Management, Commercial, Communication, Media, Human Resources, Insurance, Technology / Digital, Legal, Major Projects, Regulation, Retail, Transformation, Cyber Security, Consumer Advocacy, Social Care, Education
Number of vacancies
Time commitment
24 day(s) per annum
£15000 per annum
Length of term
3 years
Application deadline
11:55am on 15 April 2024

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Timeline for this appointment

  1. Opening date

    25 March 2024

  2. Application deadline

    11:55am on 15 April 2024

  3. Sifting date

    30 June 2024

  4. Interviews expected to end on

    31 July 2024

Timeline dates are only an estimate and can change

About the role


The Department for Education wishes to recruit two individuals who will form part of the Board as a Non-Executive Director.
Are you a confident individual who:
· can think both broadly and independently and is confident with change
· can consider issues from a strategic perspective
· can communicate successfully, build relationships as well as keeping the confidence of a wide range of groups
· can deliver operationally with an emphasis on risk, performance and financial management
· has the ability to work flexibly, to respond to the changing needs and priorities of an organisation
· and can use this ability to use this strategic perspective to support and challenge the DfE’s Board, and Senior Leadership Team in their planning and risk management?
If so, we would like to hear from you.
We support equality of opportunity for a truly diverse population. This means embracing differences in gender, ethnicity, abilities and beyond. We value unique perspectives and backgrounds, whether you're from underrepresented groups, outside the London and Southeast area or you have achieved success through non-traditional education routes.

Introduction from the Secretary of State

The Department for Education is the department for realising potential. Our core objective is to enable children and learners to thrive, by protecting the vulnerable and ensuring the delivery of excellent standards of education, training and care. As part of this we cover a broad area including early years, schools, higher and further education, wider skills, and apprenticeships. My priorities for the Department are threefold: give people the skills employers need and help grow the economy; set all children up for success in schools; and build strong foundations for every child.
The Board is a valued source of knowledge for the Department as well as an independent and trusted source of advice and support for my ministerial team, the Permanent Secretary and senior policy officials. It plays a vital role in our efforts to level up education standards, unleashing potential across England. The Board’s Non-Executive Members are central to supporting the Department by providing strong advice and challenge to help us achieve our strategic aims and to realise potential for children and learners. It really is an exciting time to assist us in achieving our strategic goals.
We welcome applications from individuals who have worked strategically and at a high-level, in complex organisations or from the education sector, who have successfully managed operational delivery, including risk, performance, digital, and financial management. The successful applicants will be passionate about the Department for Education’s work, understand the challenges facing the education sector, and help confidently support and challenge the Department.
My department supports equality of opportunity for a truly diverse population. Of course, diversity means many things, it's about embracing differences in gender, ethnicity, abilities and beyond. We value unique perspectives and backgrounds, whether you're from underrepresented groups, outside the London and Southeast area or you have achieved success through non-traditional education routes. 
Thank you for your interest in this role and for taking the time to read through this pack. If you have the skills and experiences we are seeking, I hope that you will apply. 
Yours sincerely,
Rt Hon Gillian Keegan MP
Secretary of State for Education

Role description

The DfE is responsible for children’s services and education, including early years, schools, higher and further education policy, apprenticeships and wider skills in England. At our heart, we are the Department for realising potential. We enable children and learners to thrive, by protecting the vulnerable and ensuring the delivery of excellent standards of education, training and care. This helps realise everyone’s potential – and that powers our economy, strengthens society, and increases fairness.
We work to provide children’s services, education and skills training that ensures opportunity is equal for all, no matter the background, family circumstances, or need. Our priority includes the levelling up of education standards so that children and young people in every part of the country are prepared with the knowledge, skills and qualifications they need. 
About the Board
The Board is chaired by our Secretary of State. The Chair is supported by the Lead Non-Executive Board Member, Richard Pennycook, Baroness Barran as Minister for the Board, other Non-Executive Directors, and senior departmental officials. The Board has 3 main responsibilities; to provide strategic and operational leadership to the department, to scrutinise the delivery and performance of policy and to challenge the department on how well it is achieving its objectives.
Further information

Regulation of appointment

This post is regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. For more information, please refer to the Commissioner’s website 

Person specification

Essential criteria

Members will be expected to participate fully in the board’s business by having:
• Experience of leading high-profile and complex public or private sector organisations during periods of change, along with main board level experience as an executive or a non-executive.  
• A commitment to support the successful delivery of the Department’s agenda and realising its vision and purpose to enable children and learners to thrive, along with a sound understanding of and commitment to equal opportunities.
• The ability to think strategically about the issues faced by the public sector and the ability to take a pragmatic approach to resolve complex issues.  
• Experience of successful management of operational delivery, including risk, performance, and financial management, along with strong commercial acumen to support the delivery of efficiencies and value for money across the Education and Children’s Social Care sectors. One role will be required to attend the Audit and Risk Committee.
• The confidence and ability to successfully communicate, build relationships, provide valuable challenge, and keep the confidence of a wide range of groups including Board members, Ministers, and senior government officials.  

Desirable criteria

• Strong experience of a corporate function such as finance, human resources or digital, data, and technology.  
• Experience of operating at a senior level in a business or other organisation that is subject to financial and economic regulation.  
• Experience at corporate governance level in the education or children’s social care sectors. 

Application and selection process

How to apply

In order to apply you will need to create an account or sign in.

Once you are logged into your account, click on 'apply for this role' and follow the on-screen instructions. To apply, all candidates are required to provide:

  • a Curriculum Vitae (CV) - of no more than 1 page / 2 sides
  • a supporting statement *
  • equality information
  • information relating to any outside interests or reputational issues
*Please tell us clearly how you meet each of the essential criteria for this role (max 300 words per criteria – if this wordcount is exceeded only the first 300 words will be considered). 

We will ask you to check and confirm your personal details to ensure your application is accurate.

You will also have the opportunity to make a reasonable adjustment request or apply under the disability confident scheme before you submit your application.

The Advisory Assessment Panel reserves the right to reject applications that arrive atter the published deadline and to discount information that exceeds the limits specified above. 

Overview of the application process

Public appointments are made on merit following a fair and open competition process which is conducted in accordance with the Governance Code for Public Appointments. We will deal with your application as quickly as possible and will keep you informed at key stages. We aim to conclude the appointment process within three months of the deadline for applications – this is in accordance with the Governance Code.

The assessment process

  1. Ministers are responsible and accountable to Parliament for the public appointments made within their department. As a result, they must be consulted at every stage of the appointments process.

  2. An Advisory Assessment Panel (“Panel”) is appointed by Ministers to assist them in their decision making. The role of the Panel is to decide, objectively, which candidates meet the eligibility criteria for the role.

  3. At the shortlisting meeting the Panel will assess applications against the eligibility criteria and decide which candidates have best met the criteria, who should be recommended for interview. Ministers will then be consulted on the Panel’s recommended shortlist. If you have applied under the Disability Confident Scheme and you meet all the essential criteria, then you will also be invited for an interview.

  4. Once the shortlist has been agreed by Ministers, you will be advised (by e-mail) whether you have been shortlisted. Those shortlisted will be invited to an interview.

  5. The Panel will meet again to interview candidates and determine who is appointable to the role. The Panel may invite you to make a brief presentation at the start of the interview and will go on to question you about your skills and experience, including asking specific questions to assess whether you meet the criteria set out for the post. The Panel will also explore with you any potential conflicts of interest or any other issues arising from your personal and professional history which may impact on an appointment decision.

  6. Details of the panel’s assessment of interviewed candidates are provided to Ministers, including whether they have judged a candidate to be appointable to the role. It is then for Ministers to determine merit and decide who should be appointed. In some circumstances, Ministers may choose not to appoint any candidates and re-run the competition.

  7. Ministers may choose to meet with candidates before deciding the outcome. Candidates should therefore be prepared for a short time gap between interview and a final appointment decision being made. Candidates who have been interviewed will be kept informed of progress.

  8. Once the decision on the appointment has been made, interviewed candidates will be advised of the outcome of their application, including whom they may approach for feedback. Successful candidates will be issued with their Terms & Conditions and a letter of appointment should they agree to take up the position.

Further information about appointments, including tips on applying, can be found on our guidance pages on

Advisory Assessment Panel (AAP)

Susan Acland-Hood - Permanent Secretary for the Department for Education - Departmental Official and panel chair

Richard Pennycook - Lead Non-Executive Member Department for Education Departmental Board - Representative of the Organisation

TBC - Independent Panel Member
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.

Eligibility criteria

In general, you should have the right to work in the UK to be eligible to apply for a public appointment.

There are a small number of specialist roles that are not open to non-British citizens. Any nationality requirements will be specified in the vacancy details.

The Government expects all holders of public office to work to the highest personal and professional standards.

You cannot be considered for a public appointment if:

• you are disqualified from acting as a company director (under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986);

• have an unspent conviction on your criminal record;

• your estate has been sequestrated in Scotland or you enter into a debt arrangement programme under Part 1 of the Debt Arrangement and Attachment (Scotland) Act 2002 (asp 17) as the debtor or have, under Scots law, granted a trust deed for creditors.

When you apply, you should declare if:

• you are, or have been, bankrupt or you have made an arrangement with a creditor at any point, including the dates of this.

• you are subject to a current police investigation.

You must inform the sponsor department if, during the application process, your circumstances change in respect of any of the above points.

When you apply you should also declare any relevant interests, highlighting any that you think may call into question your ability to properly discharge the responsibilities of the role you are applying for. You should also declare any other matters which may mean you may not be able to meet the requirements of the Code of Conduct of Board Members (see Outside interests and reputational issues section below)

If you need further advice, please contact  

Security clearance

The successful candidate will be required to undertake Baseline Personnel Security Standard checks in line with the Civil Service guidelines. Additional Security Clearance may also be required for certain roles. However, where this applies, candidates will be notified during the appointment process. Further information on National Security Vetting can be found on the website here.

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. The information you provide will not be seen by the Advisory Assessment Panel who review applications against the advertised criteria and conduct interviews.

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 These are:

  1. SELFLESSNESS - Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family or their friends;
  2. INTEGRITY - Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties;
  3. OBJECTIVITY - In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit;
  4. ACCOUNTABILITY - Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office;
  5. OPENNESS - Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands;
  6. HONESTY - Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest;
  7. LEADERSHIP - Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.

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.

Management of outside interests and consideration of reputational issues

Holders of public office are expected to adhere and uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life and the Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies. Before you apply you should consider carefully: 
  • any outside interests that you may have, such as shares you may hold in a company providing services to government; 
  • any possible reputational issues arising from your past actions or public statements that you have made; 
  • and/or - any political roles you hold or political campaigns you have supported; 
which may call into question your ability to do the role you are applying for.
You will need to answer relevant questions in relation to these points when making an application. Many conflicts of interest can be satisfactorily resolved and declaring a potential conflict does not prevent you from being interviewed. If you are shortlisted for an interview, the panel will discuss any potential conflicts with you during that interview, including any proposals you may have to mitigate them and record that in their advice to ministers. Alongside your own declaration, we will conduct appropriate checks, as part of which we will consider anything in the public domain related to your conduct or professional capacity. This may include searches of previous public statements and social media, blogs or any other publicly available information. The successful candidate(s) may be required to give up any conflicting interests and their other business and financial interests may be published in line with organisational policies. 
Details of declared political activity will be published when the appointment is announced, as required by the Governance Code (political activity is not a bar to appointment, but must be declared).

Status of appointment

As this is an office holder appointment, you will not become a member of the Civil Service. You will not be subject to the provisions of employment law.

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

Remuneration for this role is treated as employment income and will be subject to tax and National Insurance contributions, both of which will be deducted at source under PAYE before you are paid.
You can claim reimbursement for reasonable travel and subsistence costs which are properly and necessarily incurred on official business, in line with the travel and subsistence policy and rates for the organisation to which you are applying. However these payments are taxable as earnings and will be subject to tax and national insurance, both of which will be deducted at source under PAYE before you are 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 Board Secretariat in the first instance if you would like to make a complaint regarding your application at They will acknowledge your complaint upon receipt and respond within 15 working days.

How to complain to Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (OCPA)

If you are not content with the appointing department’s response you may wish to further complain to the Commissioner at information on how the Commissioner handles complaints can be found on the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ website

Data protection

The Cabinet Office will use your data in line with our privacy policy.
Personal data collected as part of this exercise will be processed in accordance with the Department for Education Privacy Notice. You can access the privacy notice here.

Contact details