DfES in rejig amid junk food ban controversy

The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) is on the hunt for a comms chief following director of comms and strategy Michael Stevenson’s move to head the newly formed technology division.

The top PR post has been renamed director of comms, with responsibility for strategy moving to the finance and analysis arm.
Stevenson has become director of technology. The division is charged with strengthening the role of technology in services for children and learners.

The director of comms will report to permanent secretary David Normington and oversee a 20-strong press office, internal comms, marketing, stakeholder management and research.

The DfES is in the media spotlight after Education Secretary Ruth Kelly revealed last week that she planned to ban junk food from schools. At the Labour Party conference Kelly said she wanted to improve school meals and replace crisps, chocolate and fizzy drinks in vending machines with healthy alternatives.

It prompted criticism from school caterers, who believe a ban would be ineffective and make it harder for schools to balance their books, with children turning to outlets such as chip shops (See Profile, p17).
The DfES is also looking for a new head of public affairs following the announcement that Trevor Cook is to become head of corporate comms at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Cook will rejoin former DfES director of comms Yasmin Diamond, who moved to Defra in February (PRWeek, 4 February).

Supporting the DfES director of comms will be head of corporate comms Jayne Farrin, who arrives in November from University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust. Currently director of comms, Farrin leaves her post at the transplant hospital after one year (PRWeek, 10 September). She was previously head of internal comms at Network Rail and will report to the director of comms.

Acting in the posts of director of comms and head of corporate comms is Stuart Dickenson, who is set to return to his original position of head of stakeholder relations. He has been acting head of corporate comms since May.

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