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Top mandarin agrees to go

The most senior casualty of the merger of the departments of employment and education is Sir Tim Lankester, one of the permanent secretaries, who was told last week there was no suitable vacancy for him in Whitehall.

Sir Robin Butler, the head of the home civil service, has appointed Michael Bichard, the former permanent secretary for employment and previously chief executive of Gloucestershire County Council, permanent secretary at the new department and Sir Tim has accepted redundancy terms.

The treatment of Sir Tim is unusual for the civil service. Such a senior mandarin could have expected to continue in tandem with Mr Bichard until a permanent secretaryship became available.

The radical re-structuring underway in the department has also led to the resignation of four senior civil servants in the training division based in Sheffield. Two under-secretaries, formerly in the Department for Education, Clive Saville and Nicholas Summers, are without posts.

Mr Summers, who was responsible for schools' funding, is to take early retirement. Mr Saville has responsibility for the curriculum. The Sheffield departures mean all the senior civil servants dealing with training until fairly recently will have disappeared.

The opportunity appears to have been taken to switch civil servants around. Michael Richardson, who headed the task force on nursery education and was the under-secretary in charge of schools, will in future cover 16 to 19 education.

The responsibility for the running of schools falls to Peter Shaw who also takes on nursery education. He was formerly in charge of personnel and organisation.

Nick Sanders, formerly responsible for teachers, has extended his brief to take in school funding and efficiency. David Forrester, who retains further education and youth training, and Rob Smith, pupils and parents, continue in their current roles.

From the former Department of Employment, Peter Makeham takes over employment and adult training and Bob Niven takes on equality and education enterprise training.

The DFEE was anxious to point out that the decision to appoint Mr Bichard was finely balanced. Sir Tim has had a distinguished career. He came to public prominence because of his disclosure that civil servants had not advised in favour of funding aid for the Pergau dam in Malaysia.

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