ESFA appoints David Withey as next permanent chief executive

He replaces Eileen Milner who resigned last year

He replaces Eileen Milner who resigned last year

The next permanent chief executive of the Education and Skills Funding Agency has been named.

David Withey (pictured), currently the chief operating officer and deputy ​secretary at the New South Wales Department of Education in Australia who also has experience in the UK’s civil service, will take up the position from mid-August.

He replaces Eileen Milner who resigned last summer to become chief executive of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority. Her decision came just before an independent review was launched to ensure the ESFA “remains effective into the future”.

John Edwards has been interim chief executive of the agency since Autumn 2021 but tweeted today that Warwick Sharp, the ESFA’s director of academies and maintained schools, will take over the role from Monday until Withey joins.

Withey will come on board at a time of change for the ESFA. The agency was stripped of all post-16 policy and delivery duties in April following the outcome of the independent review into its effectiveness.

Responsibility for those areas have now been absorbed by the Department for Education. The ESFA has been told to focus solely on funding and has essentially become a contracts manager.

Withey began his civil service career in the Northern Ireland Office, and he has experience working on public spending in the Treasury departments in the UK and Australia, where he also led the New South Wales’ Covid economic taskforce during the first stage of the pandemic.

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