Keith Smith to leave DfE to become London college boss

He has been a top skills civil servant for a decade

He has been a top skills civil servant for a decade

29 Jun 2022, 11:17

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A high-profile skills civil servant is set to leave the Department for Education to become the chief executive of a college.

Keith Smith will take the reins at HCUC, the merged college group for Harrow College and Uxbridge College, in November.

He will replace Darrell DeSouza who is retiring from the role after over 20 years at Uxbridge College and HCUC.

Smith began working in the then Skills Funding Agency in 2012 as director of funding and programmes before becoming director of apprenticeships in the Education and Skills Funding Agency in 2018, leading on the levy and funding reforms.

He moved to the Department for Education as director of post-16 strategy and analysis in 2020 and led on the skills for jobs white paper.

“It is a real privilege to be given the opportunity to lead HCUC,” Smith said. “I am really excited to work alongside such an amazing team and represent the outstanding work done at both Harrow College and Uxbridge College. We have an exciting future ahead.”

His move comes amid government plans to reduce the civil service headcount by 91,000 by 2025.

HCUC said Smith’s experience and background will “provide a new perspective for the role” at the college.

Nick Davies, HCUC chair, said: “I know all of HCUC’s staff and stakeholders will join me and the entire governing body in congratulating Mr Smith on his appointment, and we look forward to Keith taking up this new role later in the year.”

HCUC teaches almost 10,000 students, including programmes for young people, adults and apprentices.

The college was judged as ‘good’ by Ofsted in a report published last month.

Smith will join as Richmond upon Thames College merges with HCUC in the autumn. Richmond is currently engaged in a bitter dispute with University and College Union staff members, who are preparing to strike for three consecutive weeks at the beginning of the 2022/23 academic year.

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  1. Harry Style

    Good riddance. Let’s see if Mr Smith can actually run something rather than develop unworkable policy.

    Also we may get a more balanced approach to the private training provider market given he has historically openly hated them.

    This is good news for the sector but not the College he is going to

  2. Dan Jones

    “A high-profile skills civil servant” isn’t that the problem these days. Functionaries that are too quick to go on record or appear at conferences spouting their opinions as if it were policy instead of listening and working diligently in the background to ensure ministers are fully briefed. Keith’s implementation of apprenticeship reform and aspects of the white paper on qualification reform have had and will have have long lasting impacts on young people and adults. Maybe, just maybe, as a leader in FE he’ll see why practitioners aren’t the enemy of change but a resource to tap into and then reflect on his career in the DfE. I wish him well it’s a massive leap from policy to practice.