Ministers reject ‘more direct’ accountability for regional schools commissioners

Department for Education says there is already a ‘clear chain of accountability’ for academies

The Department for Education has refused a call from MPs to introduce a “more direct form of accountability” for regional schools commissioners.

Members of the Commons education committee called for the change in a report on regional schools commissioners (RSCs) that was published in January.

They said RSCs had “responsibilities and powers that extend beyond the scope of many other civil service roles” and that they were a “candidate for a more direct form of accountability than would be the case for other senior civil servants”.

But in its response to the report, published today, the department said there was already a “clear chain of accountability” between academy trusts and the itself.

Education secretary ‘holds responsibility’

It said: “RSCs are civil servants appointed to take decisions in the name of the secretary of state.

“They are agents of the secretary of state and make decisions within a defined set of criteria, in the main governed by funding agreements and, in maintained schools, by statute. The secretary of state remains responsible for the academy system and holds the commissioners to account for the performance of academies in their areas.”

The response comes with RSCs about to take on greater responsibilities under government plans for all schools to become academies by 2022.

In the report, the DfE also declined a call from MPs to bring in an RSC for London. Currently the capital is separated into three regions each combined with parts of the home counties.

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