The move of Sir David Normington to the post of Permanent Secretary at the Home Office has paved the way for David Bell to move into the Department for Education and Skills (DfES).

The Prime Minister announced the appointment of David Bell as the new Permanent Secretary at the DfES. Mr. Bell will take up his new position on the 3rd of January 2006. Replacing him as the Chief Inspector of Schools at the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) will be Maurice Smith, who will take on the role of Acting Chief Inspector of Schools.

David Bell

Born in Glasgow in March 1959, Mr. Bell studied history and philosophy at Glasgow University and obtained his PGCE from Jordanhill College of Education followed by a Master of Education degree from Glasgow University. He worked as a teacher at primary schools in Glasgow, moving on to become a deputy head, and eventually a head teacher in Essex before becoming assistant director of education at Newcastle City Council in 1990.

He spent a year during this period as a Harkness Fellow at Georgia State University, Atlanta, studying education and local government reform across the USA. He trained as an Ofsted team inspector in 1993, and became a Registered Inspector in 1994. Promoted to director of education and libraries at Newcastle City Council in 1995, he then became chief executive of Bedfordshire County Council in 2000 and was appointed as HMCI on the 1st of May 2002.

Mr. Bell spoke of his delight at the move, saying: "I am delighted to have been appointed as the new Permanent Secretary. Whilst much has been achieved there are real challenges across the work of the Department which I am looking forward to. I am excited at the prospect of working closely with all my new colleagues in trying to make further improvements to the lives of young people, children and families."

He also indicated that he would miss his post at Ofsted, commenting: "I have enjoyed my time as Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools. Ofsted has achieved a great deal in recent years "“ maintaining and enhancing its reputation in the worlds of education and care - and I am confident that the organisation will continue to flourish in the years to come."

Maurice Smith

Mr. Bell's proposed replacement, Maurice Smith, was born in Liverpool in 1955 and has 28 years experience in the social services and educational fields of child care including 15 years in senior management and inspection. Mr. Smith has three degrees, two at Masters level, from the Universities of Wales, Manchester and Lancashire. Whilst at Lancashire, he gained a distinction in his MBA.

Mr. Smith is also a qualified social worker, and served as an assistant director in both social services and, for five years, in education in North-West local authorities. He was appointed to Ofsted as Her Majesty's Inspector (HMI) in 1996, following which he served for five years as HMI in the Local Education Authority (LEA) inspection division of Ofsted. He was then appointed Director of Early Years with Ofsted in April 2003.

Ruth Kelly Welcomes Move

Speaking of the appointment, Secretary of State for Education and Skills Ruth Kelly said: "I am very pleased that such a strong appointment has been made for what is such an important job in education. David has already played a key role at Ofsted in the progress we have made in driving up standards in our schools and ensuring we have the best generation of teachers ever.

"He is someone who cares passionately about education," she continued, "has an excellent grasp of the issues and the skills to make a real difference. He has an extensive knowledge and expertise about further education, childcare and early years education in addition to his experience in schools.I would also like to thank his predecessor David Normington again. His contribution here has been immense."

Jethro Marsh

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