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About us – Regional Department for Education (DfE) Directors – GOV.UK

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Regional directors work locally across children’s social care, SEND, schools and area-based programmes to improve outcomes for children, families and learners.
Regional directors act on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education.
Regional directors’ main responsibilities include:
Read more about regional directors’ responsibilities in relation to schools in the regional director decision making framework and regional directors decision making: 2022 (PDF, 114 KB, 3 pages).
The schools causing concern guidance explains in more detail the action that regional directors may take when maintained schools and academies are underperforming.
Each regional director is supported by an advisory board which advises on academy related decisions. Advisory boards are made up of experienced academy headteachers and other sector leaders who advise and challenge regional directors on the decisions they make.
Regional directors work with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to provide oversight and scrutiny of academy trusts’ performance, in line with the established framework for academy trusts.
Regional directors also work closely with a number of partners.
Regional directors typically have backgrounds as experienced headteachers, chief executives of multi-academy trusts (MATs), or as leaders in education, or across the wider public sector.
The regional directors operate across 9 regions in England:
Regional directors work closely with:
Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) is the non-ministerial governmental department responsible for carrying out regular inspections of maintained schools and academies in England, as well as some independent schools. It is led by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills (HMCI), independent of the Department for Education, and reports directly to Parliament.
Ofsted work in schools, but it should be noted that this is a relatively small part of their work. They also inspect and regulate 62,000 nurseries and childminders and 2,700 children’s homes. They inspect local authority children’s services, special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) provision in a local area, initial teacher education, FE and sixth form colleges, adoption services and fostering agencies, apprenticeship providers and prison education. Although the Department for Education and Ofsted are separate organisations with distinct roles and responsibilities, there are several areas of common interest, in particular, improving the life chances and education of children and young people.
Regional directors act on Ofsted’s reporting to oversee improvement in schools by:
The Secretary of State has the power to direct Ofsted to conduct an inspection of a school under section 8 of the 2005 Education Act. This power is only used in exceptional circumstances.
Regional directors share intelligence with Ofsted about underperforming schools and MATs, and share other concerns where relevant to Ofsted functions.
Ofsted and CQC jointly inspect local areas to see how well they fulfil their responsibilities for children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities.
Where significant weaknesses have been identified during the course of an inspection, the local authority (for education and social care) and the Clinical Commissioning Group (for health) were directed to jointly design and implement a written statement of action, setting out how they will make the necessary improvements. All local areas with a written statement of action are revisited by Ofsted and CQC around 2 years after the original inspection to check on the progress they are making.
Vulnerable children’s units now report to regional directors. Vulnerable children’s units use the results of area SEND inspections to provide a vital starting point for improvement and intervention work. By highlighting national and local weaknesses in SEND performance, area SEND inspection allows vulnerable children’s unit teams to focus their challenge and support activities to achieve maximum impact for children young people and their families.
ESFA is responsible for distributing funding to the sector. It provides assurance that public funds are properly spent, that value for money is achieved for the tax payer and delivers the policies and supports strong financial capacity in the sector.
ESFA supports trusts and ensures compliance with the clear framework of accountability set out in academy trusts’ funding agreements and the Academy Trust Handbook.
Where financial non-compliance or failure to deliver value for money is identified, ESFA has a proportionate, risk-based intervention strategy that fits within the overall academy accountability framework.
ESFA brings together the school resource management portfolio to help schools and trusts build their financial capacity and expertise and strengthen their financial position so that they can support improved outcomes for pupils.
Regional directors and ESFA work together to consider and share a range of information to produce a joined-up assessment of performance across 3 key functions of an academy trust:
This evidence is used as a starting point to consider potential areas of concern as well as to test evidence of strong performance. This can help, for example, confirm the suitability of a trust to support new schools, inform decisions about whether to offer support or to decide whether intervention is required.
In cases of failure both regional directors and ESFA may issue formal intervention notices:
In response the academy trust may be required to submit a:
Regional directors work with Ofsted on a number of policy and operational areas. The most important of these is the safeguarding of children, which is of the utmost priority to both organisations. When an Ofsted inspection identifies safeguarding failures in an academy Ofsted will share information with the relevant regional director. Regional directors and Ofsted may also share complaint information received.
When regional directors are made aware of concerns about the safeguarding arrangements in an academy, either by Ofsted or form other sources such as a parental complaint, action will be taken to ensure the trust is meeting its responsibility’s as set out in the Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014, and statutory guidance such as keeping children safe in education and working together to safeguard children.
Where necessary to protect the wellbeing of a child, regional directors will share information with other statutory agencies, such as the local authority’s children’s social care teams or the police.
Ofsted may also refer concerns relating to educational performance, finance or governance to ESFA  or regional directors for action as appropriate in line with their respective responsibilities.
The roles and responsibilities are set out in the flowchart oversight and accountability for the state funded school system in England (PDF, 112 KB, 1 page).
Advisory boards are responsible for advising and challenging regional directors on academy related decisions.
Read the terms of reference for advisory boards formerly called headteacher boards (PDF, 175 KB, 19 pages) for more information.
Details including members lists, meeting schedules, preparation templates and notes are available on the advisory board page.
Following 2021 advisory board elections, read the advisory board election results and methodology (PDF, 195 KB, 8 pages).
In June 2022, 36 system leaders were co-opted or appointed to the 9 new advisory boards which started work in September 2022. The new members are listed on advisory board co-opted and appointed members (PDF, 122 KB, 3 pages).
If you’re a local-authority-maintained school, information is available about converting to an academy.
You can also read about opening a free school.
We define these interests as any personal or business interest within the past 5 years which may be, or may be seen to be, influencing an regional director’s or advisory board member’s judgement in performing their role. These interests may include:
Other potential conflicts of interest include:
Read the register of interest for regional directors and advisory board members (ODS, 37.2 KB).
If you want to make a complaint about an regional director’s decision, read the Department for Education’s complaints procedure.
Provide us with as much detail as you can to help us investigate your complaint:
We will investigate all formal complaints in line with the Department for Education’s complaints procedure.
Information on complaining about a school or an academy is also available.
Don’t include personal or financial information like your National Insurance number or credit card details.
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