The sponsor of a controversial academy trust is due to replace Lord Nash as education minister.
Sir Theodore Agnew, currently the chairman of the Norfolk-based Inspiration Trust, is a key ally of former education secretary Michael Gove.
He formerly chaired the academies board at the Department for Education, and moved with Mr Gove to the Ministry of Justice.
He is a strong supporter of the academy and free school movement, and has previously said he does not believe in grammar schools.
His likely appointment will be seen as a signal of the government’s continued commitment to academies and free schools, despite last year’s u-turn on plans to force all schools to become academies.
When contacted by Tes, Sir Theodore said he was unable to comment.
He made his money as a businessman, and was an early pioneer of outsourcing to India.
His interest in education pre-dated his time on the Department for Education’s board, and he funded research by the Policy Exchange thinktank that helped pave the way for the pupil premium, which gives schools extra money to support children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
In 2014, Sir Theodore was considered a leading candidate to become chairman of Ofsted, after Mr Gove controversially decided not to reappoint Labour peer Baroness Morgan.
However, he later told the Eastern Daily Press he had decided not to apply for the position, because of political controversy surrounding the proposal.
Under his chairmanship, the Inspiration Trust has set up a number of free schools, including the Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form College, the Jane Austen College and the Charles Darwin Primary School in Norwich.
Last year it opened the Trafalgar College, a new free school in Great Yarmouth, which is undersubscribed and is now set to merge with the town’s other high school, which Inspiration took over this year.