Northern Ireland

Stormont permanent secretary Richard Pengelly appointed as new Education Authority chief executive

Senior civil servant will replace outgoing CEO Sara Long in April

Permanent Secretary of the Department of Justice Richard Pengelly (File/PA)
Outgoing permanent Secretary of the Department of Justice Richard Pengelly. PICTURE: PA

The permanent secretary of Stormont’s Department for Justice is to take up a new role as the chief executive of the Education Authority.

Richard Pengelly will take up the post from April 15, replacing outgoing CEO Sara Long, who is joining the Republic’s Health Service Executive as an executive officer for one of the newly established health regions.

Ms Long had been at the helm of the EA for five years before her departure was announced in January.

EA Chief Executive Sara Long
Outgoing EA chief executive Sara Long.

Mr Pengelly is the husband of Stormont’s deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly, and has been the permanent secretary at the Department of Justice since April 2022.

The senior civil servant had previously served as permanent secretary at the Department of Health for seven years.

Welcoming his appointment by the board of the EA, education minister Paul Givan said: “The education system is facing a period of unprecedented challenges and requires a senior leader to build on the positive work carried out to date and to continue to take forward critical transformation to meet the needs of all of our children and young people.

“I am pleased the board has agreed to the appointment of Permanent Secretary Richard Pengelly as CEO of the Education Authority and I am grateful to the head of the civil service for agreeing to release Richard to undertake this important role.”

The minister continued: “Richard is an experienced senior leader with a track record of delivering transformation in complex multi-disciplinary public sector organisations. The education system is facing significant operational challenges, not least in terms of the delivery of Special Educational Needs provision, and while I recognise that it will take time to address such issues, Richard has the experience and skill, working with the EA Board, to deliver real change.”

EA Chair Barry Mulholland said Sara Long had made an “outstanding contribution to the EA and to the wider education sector, taking forward an ambitious programme of transformation and service improvement”.