David Carter

Sir David Carter went to a comprehensive school in South Wales and was the first member of his family to go to university where he studied for a music degree. In 1983 he began teaching as a music teacher and over the next 30 years he became a local authority music advisor, a headteacher, an executive head and a CEO.

He was appointed to the post of national schools commissioner (NSC) in February 2016 and focused firmly on building capacity so that the trusts that run our most challenging schools can sustain improvement over time. Before joining the civil service, Sir David was the founding CEO of the Cabot Learning Federation, a multi-academy trust based in Bristol, which at the time was one of the largest MATs in the south-west, with 12 academies. Sir David is a trustee at several charities including Centrepoint, the charity that is aiming to eradicate youth homelessness, a trustee of the charity that oversees the annual teaching awards as well as being on the board of the Talent Foundry Trust, a charity creating new opportunities through wider enrichment and support for disadvantaged children. In 2018, he took up the role of executive director of system leadership at the Ambition Institute, leading the training programmes for trust leaders as well as designing and leading a new model of reviewing and assessing MATs. In August 2020, his book Leading academy trusts – why some fail but most don’t was published.


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