Academy trust chief poised for children's commissioner role

Dame Rachel de Souza, chief executive of Inspiration Trust. Picture: Tom Barnes

Dame Rachel de Souza, chief executive of Inspiration Trust. Picture: Tom Barnes - Credit: Archant

The chief executive of a Norfolk academy trust is poised to be appointed to a top national role.

Rachel de Souza, the chief executive of the Inspiration Trust which runs 14 schools across Norfolk and Suffolk, has been named as the Department for Education's preferred candidate for the role of children's commissioner. 

Pending a pre-appointment hearing with the government's election select committee, she will then take on the role, having been nominated by education secretary Gavin Williamson - with prime minister Boris Johnson's seal of approval.

Then education secretary Michael Gove performing the official cutting of the first sod on the site o

Then education secretary Michael Gove performing the official cutting of the first sod on the site of the new school buildings at the Ormiston Victory Academy, Costessey. Pictured with then-principal Rachel de Souza. Photo: Steve Adams

Dame Rachel began at the Inspiration Trust in 2012, which counts Jane Austen College, Hethersett Academy and Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form among its schools.

She said: "It is a great honour to be nominated for the role of children's commissioner. Throughout my whole career I have been a passionate advocate for children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and finding ways to support them so they can realise their potential and flourish.


You may also want to watch:


"We all know just how difficult Covid-19 has been for families up and down the country and - subject to my appointment being approved - I would very much like to play my part in helping level up opportunities for children and ensuring their welfare, as we come through this difficult time and look towards a more positive future."

David Tibble, chairman of Inspiration Trust, said: "We are incredibly proud that Dame Rachel has been nominated for this role - in her time at the trust she has been tireless in her work to help young people achieve, no matter what their background.

Most Read

"I have every confidence that she would apply the same rigour, verve and determination in the interests of every child across the country as the new children's commissioner."

It comes four years after the Inspiration Trust chief was linked to a top role at regulatory body Ofsted,  though these rumours did not materialise. 

In the commissioners role, Dame Rachel will be tasked with holding the government to account as it sets policy to ensure the interests of children across all backgrounds are represented. 

Dame Rachel has not been without her critics during her time in education. In 2014 she denied allegations about school inspection tip-offs in a letter to staff.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter