DfE appoints top Theresa May adviser to its board

Nick Timothy joins education department three years after snap election that cost him his job

Nick Timothy Credit: DfE

By Jim.Dunton

17 Apr 2020

Grammar-school advocate Nick Timothy has been appointed to the board at the Department for Education almost three years after he resigned from his job as a top aide to Theresa May in the wake of 2017’s snap general election.

Timothy – along with Fiona Hill – was one of the then-prime minister’s two chiefs of staff who guided May through her attempt to strengthen her hold on power, but which resulted in the loss of the Conservative Party’s majority and fuelled parliament’s Brexit impasse.

He previously served as May’s special advisor at the Home Office when she was home secretary, but left to lead free-schools support body the New Schools Network, only to return to government when May became prime minister the following year.


The Department for Education said Timothy had joined its board last month as a non-executive member. It noted in its biography of him that he is also a visiting professor at the University of Sheffield, an author, a newspaper columnist and a member of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee.

“He has extensive experience across Whitehall and Westminster, including serving in the Home Office and as joint chief of staff to the prime minister,” the entry states.

As a Daily Telegraph columnist, Timothy’s recent work has included musings on how the Coronavirus pandemic makes tax rises inevitable; how the crisis will shake up education and politics forever; and why Boris Johnson’s absence from government will definitely be felt.

Not long after he and Hill left Downing Street – in a move that was reported at the time as the price backbench Conservative MPs demanded for keeping Theresa May in office after the losing her majority – Timothy openly attacked the government’s student loans system, likening it to a Ponzi scheme.

A DfE spokesperson said Timothy would “bring a range of experience that will support our work as we continue to develop our world-leading education system”.

Former Co-operative Group chief executive officer Richard Pennycook is DfE’s current lead non-executive board member.

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