Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP, has been appointed Secretary of State for Education in Boris Johnson’s first evening in office as Prime Minister.
Gavin was previously Secretary of State for Defence from 2 November 2017 to 1 May 2019. He was Chief Whip (Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury) from 14 July 2016 to 2 November 2017.
Gavin was known for his innovative ideas while in his previous Defence Secretary role, which also ended with a little bit of controversy. Reports in the mainstream media were widely shared whilst he was in the Defence Secretary’s post, such as innovative cost-saving ideas like arming tractors with guns, disguising missile
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So what is the Sector Response to the news about Gavin Williamson taking up the Secretary of State post?
Steve Frampton, President of the Association of Colleges (Aoc) said:
“The job of Secretary of State for Education is one of the best, and most important, in government. There is the potential to change the lives of millions of people, transform our communities, and support the long-term success of business and our economy.
Gavin Williamson has stepped into the role at one of the most crucial times in modern history. The House of Common’s own Education Select Committee this week released a report that warns that the education system risks “reaching breaking point” unless government acts. And so we urge him to act and act quickly.
Report after report, expert after expert have been clear, colleges have been over-looked and under-funded, having faced a decade of unprecedented cuts. The new Secretary of State has the potential to shape a legacy in which the forgotten 50% are remembered and supported, businesses are equipped with the skilled staff they are crying out for, and our communities and people across the country can thrive. That legacy can only happen if he prioritises further education, including with real, meaningful and sustainable investment in colleges. We look forward to working with the new Secretary of State to make this happen.”
Tom Bewick, Chief Executive of the Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB) comments:
“It’s great to see a state educated politician take over the helm at the Department for Education. Gavin Williamson will be judged on the basis of one overriding objective: and that is his ability to secure more investment in further education and skills. He needs to make the case to the Treasury that you can’t secure a world-class workforce on the cheap. Improving skills, productivity and social mobility is a shared challenge. Top of his priority list should be to sort out the financial sustainability of the Apprenticeship Levy. He should resist the calls from business to turn the Levy into a general skills fund; and instead, ensure the money is targeted at below Level 6 apprenticeships. This should include a focus on more 16-24 year olds being able to benefit from the learning and earning route to success, without them having to rack up huge graduate debts.
“From FAB’s perspective, we’d like to see the new ministerial team become a genuine champion of the awarding and assessment industry. We export more qualifications and expertise than any other country on the planet. Attacking the value of vocational qualifications therefore is not a sensible way of building parity of esteem. It only undermines the hard work of many learners and teachers. We look forward to discussing his predecessor’s various qualifications reviews; as well as playing our part in constructively helping the government to deliver on its promises of turning the nation into a leading system of technical and vocational education.”