EFA’s head of programme advice and support ‘will leave by May’

The government’s delivery body for schools is to be hit by the departure of one of its most senior directors at the end of the month, it has emerged, as the organisation revealed details of a new structure.

The newly formed Education Funding Agency (EFA), which absorbed the functions of former delivery agency Partnerships for Schools (PfS) on 1 April, has confirmed that David Burns will leave at the end of April.

Burns, the head of programme advice and support, was one of three divisional directors leading work on schools capital programmes, and had been at PfS for almost nine years.

There’s still strength in depth on the EFA capital side

Peter Lauener, EFA

He is the latest in a list of high-profile changes at the organisation, where departures included regional operations director Harry Scarff and academies director Colin Howell. It has also recruited Mike Green from Alliance Boots as head of capital.

In an interview with Building this week, EFA chief executive Peter Lauener (pictured) insisted that despite the changes, the organisation has “got the skills needed” to deliver the government’s schools capital programmes, including the much-delayed £2bn Priority School Building Programme.

He said: “It’s a bit like a kaleidoscope. Everyone gets used to the setting, but then there’s a twist and a new shape comes to the fore. I still think there is tremendous strength in depth on the EFA capital side.”

The EFA has around a dozen individuals from the private sector on secondment working with it on schools capital work - mainly free schools. This is despite a recent declaration by civil service head Sir Bob Kerslake that public sector building programmes should rely less on private sector consultants.

Lauener said: “I think it’s a good balance to have - it helps to cope with peaks and troughs.”

In a letter to EFA stakeholders, PfS’ interim head Ruth Thompson said that Mike Green would “consider what arrangements to make for the programme advice and support area of the business” following Burns’ exit. 

She also confirmed a series of other positions, including deputy director for design Mairi Johnson and deputy director for the Priority Schools Building Programme Rachel Stephenson.

  • Peter Lauener is speaking at education event BFE UK on 9-10 May. For more information go to www.bfeuk.com