Kim Thorneywork new SFA chief executive

Kim Thorneywork is the new interim chief executive of the Skills Funding Agency (SFA).

Geoff Russell, the current chief executive of the SFA, announced his decision to step down in January after informing the Agency last August. He agreed to remain in his position until the end of July to oversee the restructuring of the Agency.

Ms Thorneywork was recently promoted at the SFA to be the executive director of delivery, in May 2011, and has been leading its work on funding policy, investment and provider performance. She moved to the Agency to be the area director for Coventry and Warwickshire in 2006, after having worked as an inspector for Ofsted and a science teacher at Walsall College.

When the SFA replaced the Learning and Skills Council in April 2010 she became the senior account director for the west midlands, with a portfolio of 33 FE colleges and over 160 training organisations.

The skills minister John Hayes said he is “delighted” that Ms Thorneywork has accepted the position.

“Her wealth of experience in the sector and extensive knowledge of the Skills Funding Agency will be a valuable asset in this role.

“I would also like to thank Geoff Russell for his hard work and commitment in the role and wish him well in his retirement.”

Ms Thorneywork said: “Taking the Skills Funding Agency forward will be a privilege. I am delighted to accept the role of interim chief executive and I’d like to thank the minister for putting his trust in my leadership.

“Geoff Russell’s contribution to the sector has been very significant and I welcome the opportunity to build on that. My ambition is to work with the sector to meet the challenges of the future and to truly make skills work for England.”

Mr Russell congratulated Ms Thorneywork and said it was “tremendous” news for the SFA and the sector. “I am confident that Kim, along with the rest of the Executive Management Team, will help enable the sector to take FE to new levels of excellence.”


More Supplements

Strikes: Minimum service levels will ‘inflame’ tensions

Unions slam 'bad faith' proposals as college leaders raise concerns about union relationships

Shane Chowen
Shane Chowen

Students force college to ‘suspend’ ties with Israel-linked aerospace firm

Luton Sixth Form Colleges has cut ties with Leonardo, which provides STEM careers events and work placements

Anviksha Patel
Anviksha Patel

DfE’s spending on T Level public awareness efforts revealed

Leaders say DfE 'significantly underestimated' the difficulty of launching the new qualification

Anviksha Patel
Anviksha Patel

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Andy Smith

    Can you please stop referring to the SFA as “replaced the Learning and Skills Council”. The majority of the LSCs funding was 16-18, and these responsibilities passed to the YPLA (and now Education Funding Agency).

    The sector is confusing enough without FEWeek adding to it, and more to the point giving greater kudos to a lame duck agency with a small budget, massive staff numbers, and lessening political support.

  2. has been leading its work on funding policy, investment and provider performance………….

    16. The Service and Agency lack reliable evidence on which to base the rates they use to fund apprenticeship training. Some elements of the funding calculations have become particularly dated, while in addition apprenticeship tariffs have been adjusted simply to reflect changes in their annual budgets, rather than any assessment of changes in the actual costs of delivery.[

    17. The Service and Agency could not demonstrate they had a way of testing that their funding rates were robustly based on the actual costs of delivery. The Service was unable to say how much of its funding is spent by providers on the actual training of apprentices.[41] The Agency said that it knew training providers were making a profit (based on the rationale that, otherwise, they would go out of business), but was unable to say how profitable different types of apprenticeship are to deliver.[42]

    This does not give me a warm feeling about Ms Thorneywork’s ability to rectify the deep flaws in the Apprenticeship system.

    In fact, the sooner the entire edifice of the DBIS/SFA/NAS is dismantled and the model that will come out of the Employer Ownership Fund is implemented the better for me and all future Apprentices.

  3. I must agree that an internal appointment from an organisation that does not seem to be fit for purpose gives little hope for fundamental change in the 3 critical areas that need radical change to deliver the right results:

    1 Funding more closely linked to real costs to deliver each type of apprenticeship.

    2 Different funding for learners well established in work – say 3 years experience – and those new to work in that vocational area.

    3 Flexible programme lengths linked to achievement of competencies and not arbitrary 12 month time period.