Written evidence from the Department for Education (NED16)

Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee

The Role of Non-Executive Directors in Government inquiry



  1.      Introduction


This paper sets out evidence on the role and activities of Non-Executive Board Members (NEBMs) in the Department for Education.


  1.      This paper provides information for the following terms of reference provided:



  1.      Evidence


3.1.  Roles and activities of NEBMs


The Department for Education’s NEBMs dedicate approximately 24 days of their time, per year, to their work as departmental NEBMs. Outside of formal board and committee commitments, they work at their own discretion as dictated by the demands of the Departments work.  


The Department for Education’s NEBMs sit on the following subcommittees outside of the departmental board:



In addition to this, the NEBMs meet regularly with the Permanent Secretary, Directors General, the Lead NEBM, and Ministerial Team, as well as with Directors within the Department to offer expertise, scrutiny, and challenge to the Department’s work. Ad hoc meetings, outside of Board and subcommittees attendance, are determined by individual NEBM priorities and expertise. Discussions between the Permanent Secretary, Lead NED, Directors General, and NEDs are currently ongoing to create NED portfolios that will dictate future areas of focus and challenge within the Department. The Lead NED meets regularly with the Secretary of State.



3.2. The NEBM appointment process


The Department for Education follows the following process to recruit new Non-Executive Board Members:


Unregulated appointment processes mirror the requirements of the Governance Code for Public Appointments as set out by the Cabinet Office. A role description is developed by the Board Secretariat in conversation with the Secretary of State, Permanent Secretary, and Lead NED which is then advertised on the Cabinet Office’s Public Appointments website.


Any declared conflicts of interest are monitored and managed through NEBMs completing a register of interests form. NEBMs are required to declare any changed interests at the start of every departmental Board meeting and are required to alert Board Secretariat to any changes in the interim. This may result in those individuals excluding themselves from affected Board items.


Some appointments, such as departmental board appointments, are not listed on the Public Appointment Order in Council. Such roles are not regulated by OCPA and are therefore exempt from the requirements of the Governance Code for Public Appointments (The Code).


The Department feels strongly that the process to appoint its NEBMs should be conducted in a fair, open and transparent manner and as such mirrors the requirements of The Code.


The Secretary of State and Minister for the Board were consulted at all stages of the recruitment process and the appointments were announced publicly here.


3.3. Accountability


The NEBMs are held to account through the publication of departmental Board minutes and through regular meetings with the Permanent Secretary.


The NEBMs have all signed a letter of appointment, in which is included the Code of Conduct for NEBMs.




September 2022