Bad news today for the new Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA), the body set to run higher education training from next year. Just two months after her appointment, it’s been announced that Rachel Sandby-Thomas will be leaving her role as shadow chief executive.
The news marks a blow for the IfA, which has so far not appointed any permanent staff, bar Sandby-Thomas, who will now join Warwick University as registrar instead. The news prompted criticism from shadow skills minister Gordon Marsden, who said the announcement had potentially left the IfA “in crisis”.
“It is quite extraordinary that the person the government has just appointed as the key driver for the new institute has suddenly announced that she will be leaving the post in September,” he said.
“Clearly, whatever the reasons, this now potentially leaves a body, which still lacks a chair and a board and where the government have consistently been extremely vague about the future composition of this board, in crisis.”
The news was a dramatic reversal from the mood in March, when BIS permanent secretary Martin Donnelly welcomed the appointment by saying: “Building on her in-depth knowledge of the apprenticeship programme as director general for skills, Rachel will play a major role in establishing the IfA, which is due to launch in April 2017 and be an essential part of ensuring the quality of apprenticeships in support of the government’s target of delivering 3m apprentices by 2020.”