Commercial Manager (Claims)

Department for Education
21 Feb 2018
27 Feb 2018
Job Type
Contract Type

The Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) was established on 1 April 2012 and combined the Education Funding Agency and Skills Funding Agency to form a single funding agency accountable for funding education and training for children, young people and adults.

It has over 700 staff based in 11 offices, as well as a number of remote workers. Its principal responsibilities are to;

• Be accountable for GBP61bn of funding for the education and training sector, providing assurance that public funds are properly spent, achieve value for money for the tax payer and deliver the policies and priorities set by the Secretary of State;

• Regulate academies, FE Colleges, employers and training providers, intervening where there is risk of failure or where there is evidence of mismanagement of public funds and

• Deliver major projects and operate key services in the education and skills sector, such as school capital programmes, the National Careers Service, the digital Apprenticeship Service and National Apprenticeship Service.

The ESFA is arranged in four groups to achieve this: Academies and Maintained Schools; Young People; Capital; Funding Agencies Shared Services.

The Legal and Transactions Team provides procurement, legal, commercial and contractual expertise to support the delivery of property transactions and construction contracts in relation to capital projects. The Construction Team within the Legal and Transactions Team provides a broad range of advisory services across all capital projects.

Role Description:

The Commercial Manager (Claims) will join a growing team of construction specialists working across a range of construction projects across ESFA Capital. These primarily comprise the Priority Schools Building Programme (PSBP), Free Schools Programme (FSP) and ad hoc emergency CIF projects.

You will work with internal project teams as well as external technical and legal advisors to manage construction contracts. This will primarily involve reviewing post contract issues and advising on the appropriate course of action including contract notices, dealing with claims and variations and working through contractual disputes.

You will need to have a flexible, responsive approach with world class business delivery skills, be willing to provide advice, challenge using evidence, and develop the most creative solutions to the most demanding problems.

Role holders will therefore need to add value to their team's work and be able to cut through the issues to see the solutions that are required to take work forward within the legal and policy framework. They will be able to manage a range of projects and stakeholders with sometimes competing priorities.

Core to all these roles will be critical analytical skills, so not just accepting things at face value but seeking to question the norm. In so doing, role holders will be uncompromising, passionate and relentless in their desire for individual and corporate excellence. Self-improvement will be vital. Individuals will seek feedback, act on it, and pursue their own development and acquisition of knowledge to improve their performance.

Key Responsibilities:

The role requires specialist experience and qualifications. The key responsibilities for the role are outlined below, however duties may vary over time and post holders will need to be adaptable and resilient, ready to undertake a diverse range of tasks. The role holder will form part of a team of c.30 legal managers and commercial managers, the majority of whom are qualified solicitors, and so will be required to work closely with colleagues on complex transactions.

• In respect of PSBP and FSP:

- Managing post-contractual claims and disputes raised by Contractors, including assessing the validity of a claim, advising on the procedure for dealing with the claim and overseeing resolution of all claims (in conjunction with internal colleagues and external advisors) within required timescales, cost and quality parameters. Strong numerical and financial management skills are desirable.
- Overseeing any issues escalated to dispute resolution procedures (including liaising with external advisors, where necessary).
- Negotiating resolution of complex claims with Contractors utilising external technical and legal advisors (as required)
- Drafting, reviewing, negotiating and suggesting improvements to template and bespoke construction guidance and documents (including identifying the need for new templates).
- Acting as client and managing the services provided by our retained external legal advisers.

More generally:

• Supporting the construction aspects of other capital projects where required.

• Applying experience and lessons learnt and assisting in the strategic review of programme wide approaches and policies and internal analysis as to potential improvements.

• Working across organisational boundaries to ensure an effective contribution to policy and business delivery.

You will have regular contact and need to establish good working relationships with colleagues in the commercial and procurement functions of the Legal & Transactions team.

Line Management:

You will report to Irum Kareem in the Legal and Transactions Team.

Person specification

The following are essential for the role:

• A legal professional with sound financial and claims management experience. A proven track record managing and resolving contentious issues is essential.
• Experience of the DfE's bespoke Design and Build Contract and ESFA amendments to the JCT suite of contracts are an advantage.
• Good knowledge of education or central government environments, in particular experience of working on PSBP and/or FSP is an advantage.
• Broad commercial construction transactional experience, in particular experience of acting on large scale educational developments is an advantage.
• Experience of working with or for the public sector is an advantage, as is client side experience.
• Proven experience of influencing and guiding others


Solicitor or barrister qualified to practice in England and Wales.


We'll assess you against these competencies during the selection process:
  • Achieving commercial outcomes
  • Delivering at pace
  • Seeing the big picture
  • Leading and communicating
  • Making effective decisions

Civil Service Competency Framework



Civil Service pension schemes may be available for successful candidates.


Applicants currently holding a permanent post in the Civil Service should note that, if successful, their salary on appointment would be determined by the Department's transfer / promotion policies.

As a member of the DfE, you will be entitled to join the highly competitive Civil Service Pension Scheme, which many experts agree is one of the most generous in the UK.

Other Benefits

You will have 25 days leave, increasing by 1 day every year to a maximum of 30 days after five years' service. In addition, all staff receive the Queen's Birthday privilege holiday and 8 days' bank and public holidays.

We offer flexible working arrangements, such as job sharing, term-time working, flexi-time and compressed hours, along with excellent childcare benefits.

As an organisation, which exists to support education and lifelong learning, we offer our staff excellent professional development opportunities.

Things you need to know


Successful candidates must pass a disclosure and barring security check.

Successful candidates must pass basic security checks.

Nationality statement

Candidates will be subject to UK immigration requirements as well as Civil Service nationality rules.

If you're applying for a role requiring security clearance please be aware that foreign or dual nationality is not an automatic bar. However certain posts may have restrictions which could affect those who do not have sole British nationality or who have personal connections with certain countries outside the UK.

Selection process details

As part of the application process you will be asked to complete a CV and personal statement. Further details around what this will entail are listed on the application form.

If a large number of applications are received for this role, the sift will be conducted on a reduced number of competencies. If your application progresses to a full sift, all competences will then be considered.

Feedback will only be provided at interview stage.
Feedback will only be provided if you attend an interview or assessment.

Nationality requirements

Open to UK, Commonwealth and European Economic Area (EEA) and certain non EEA nationals. Further information on whether you are able to apply is available here.


Candidates in their probationary period are eligible to apply for vacancies within this department.

Working for the Civil Service

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.

We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission's recruitment principles.

The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equality of opportunity. There is a guaranteed interview scheme (GIS) for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum selection criteria.