Second big government job for Northamptonshire commissioner

Tony McArdle is heading up a review into Special Educational Needs provision.
Tony McArdle is heading up a review into Special Educational Needs provision.

The man charged with rebuilding Northamptonshire County Council has been given a second big job by the Government.

Leader commissioner Tony McCardle will be heading up a Department for Education review into support for special educational needs children.

The review is taking place five years after reforms were introduced and the Government has said it aims to improve the services available to families with special needs children and end the postcode lottery they currently face. It also will look at ways to equip schools.

Introducing the review, new Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said he wanted parents to know the Government is committed to boosting outcomes for children with special educational needs.

Taking on his role, Mr McArdle, who was previously chief executive at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “Delivering better SEND outcomes will require consistent, strong leadership across a range of partners.

“I look forward to ensuring that this board supports the sector with what it needs to bring that leadership to bear.”

Alongside his chairmanship of the SEND System leadership board he will also act as an adviser to the review.

Since being appointed to Northamptonshire County Council in May 2018 – following the authority running out of funds – the commissioner has led a team which in the most recent financial year has balanced its books.

However, this achievement was helped by a special dispensation granted by Government which allowed the council to use £70m of capital receipts (largely from the sale of council headquarters One Angel Square) to help set a balanced budget and replenish reserves. The county was also allowed to raise the council tax levy by five per cent without a referendum.

The council’s chief executive has said the authority is still in a fragile state and is losing sleep about unknown legacy problems that may be lurking round the corner.

Northamptonshire County Council has confirmed Mr McArdle will continue in his lead commissioner role at the authority as well as this new task.