Who are Regional School Commissioners?


You might have heard of Regional School Commissioners (RSCs) but might be unsure of what they actually do. RSCs typically are experienced headteachers, chief executives of multi-academy trusts (MATs), or as leaders in education.

There are 8 RSCs that operate across 8 regions in England.

The National Schools Commissioner and RSCs work with schools to ensure they are supported to improve and to address underperformance. Each RSC is supported by an advisory board. Advisory boards are made up of experienced academy headteachers and other sector leaders who advise and challenge RSCs on the decisions they make.

RSCs 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 School Commissioners: what are their main responsibilities?

RSCs’ main responsibilities include:

  • Intervening in academies that Ofsted has judged inadequate
  • Intervening in academies where governance is inadequate
  • Deciding on applications from local-authority-maintained schools to convert to academy status
  • Intervening in maintained schools judged to be inadequate by Ofsted by providing them with support from a strong sponsor
  • Encouraging and deciding on applications from sponsors to operate in a region
  • Taking action to improve poorly performing sponsors
  • Advising on proposals for new free schools
  • Advising on whether to cancel, defer or enter into funding agreements with free school projects
  • Deciding on applications to make significant changes to academies and free schools
  • Taking decisions on the creation and growth of multi-academy trusts
  • Offering support to maintained schools and academies judged to require improvement by Ofsted
  • Deciding on the transfer of an academy from one trust to another

Read more about RSCs’ responsibilities in the RSC decision making framework and Regional Schools Commissioner decision making.

Regional School Commissioners: what is the history?

The House of Commons Library has published a research briefing on the topic of RSCs.

It explains that in September 2014, 8 RSCs were appointed as civil servants in the DfE with responsibility for approving new academies and intervening to tackle underperformance in academies in their area. 

From July 2015, their role was expanded to additionally include responsibility for approving the conversion of underperforming maintained schools into academies and making the decision on sponsors.

A further expansion to the remit of RSCs resulted from the passing of the Education and Adoption Act 2016.

The Act provided the Secretary of State with new intervention powers in both maintained schools and academies, and extended the types of schools that are eligible for intervention to include coasting schools.

These additional intervention powers are exercised by RSCs on behalf of the Secretary of State.

RSCs’ responsibilities in addition to intervening in underperforming academies and maintained schools include:

  • Assessing applications from maintained schools to convert to academy status
  • Encouraging organisations to become academy sponsors and taking decisions on the creation and growth of multi-academy trusts (MATs)
  • Making recommendations to ministers on free school applications
  • Making decisions on applications to make significant changes to an existing academy

Regional school commissioners: more information

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