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Former education catch-up tsar returns to DfE as adviser on school standards


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Sir Kevan Collins with Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson (DfE/PA)

The former education catch-up tsar Sir Kevan Collins has been appointed as a Government adviser on driving higher standards in schools.

Sir Kevan, who was once the education recovery commissioner, will return to the Department for Education (DfE) as a non-executive board member.

In June 2021, Sir Kevan quit as the catch-up tsar as he said the Conservative government’s £1.4 billion education recovery fund fell “far short” of what was needed to help pupils make up for lost learning during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under the new Labour Government, Sir Kevan will advise on rising standards in state schools – which will include looking for solutions to tackle teacher shortages and high pupil absence rates.

Sir Kevan is a well-known figure within the education sector with more than 30 years of experience and a knighthood for his services.

Sir Kevan has been an outstanding force for good in schools, especially his work advocating for our teachers and children during the pandemic and he will play a crucial role in advising the department
Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson

Prior to taking on the role as the Government’s education recovery commissioner in England in early 2021, Sir Kevan was the chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), an independent charity supporting pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson also confirmed on Wednesday that the DfE will restructure to place special educational needs and disabilities (Send) and alternative provision (AP) policy within the Schools Group.

The DfE hopes the restructure will ensure that improving inclusion in mainstream schools is at the heart of the Government’s plans to improve opportunity for children with Send.

There are real challenges facing our schools and I am looking forward to being part of a renewed drive to ensure that we tackle these with bold and fresh new ideas, to deliver high and rising standards in every corner of the country
Sir Kevan Collins

Ms Phillipson said: “Our push for high and rising standards across our state schools began on day one, with first steps including recruiting 6,500 new teachers.

“I have moved quickly to make sure my department can deliver on our mission to break down the barriers to opportunity so every child has the best start in life.

“Sir Kevan has been an outstanding force for good in schools, especially his work advocating for our teachers and children during the pandemic and he will play a crucial role in advising the department.”

Sir Kevan said: “I am delighted to be returning to the Department of Education.

“There are real challenges facing our schools and I am looking forward to being part of a renewed drive to ensure that we tackle these with bold and fresh new ideas, to deliver high and rising standards in every corner of the country.”

Sir Kevan’s appointment has been approved by the Commissioner for Public Appointments and he has begun his three-year term with immediate effect.

Permanent Secretary Susan Acland-Hood, said: “We are delighted to welcome Sir Kevan Collins back to the department.

“His significant experience in education will be an asset as we work to build on and improve school standards.”

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