I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a happy new year and thank you for all your hard work and commitment throughout 2019.
I was so proud to be appointed Education Secretary back in the summer, and it is a huge privilege to be continuing the role as we head into 2020. I had a brilliant first few months, visiting many colleges and further education providers, meeting fantastic teachers, lecturers and college staff. This provided me a glimpse of the incredible work you are all doing in delivering skills and opportunities to so many.
In the past few months, I have travelled the country and have heard directly from people and businesses about what really matters to them. What resonated hugely with me was the importance of spreading opportunity to every corner of the country, making sure we help young people gain the skills that will enable them to reach their potential and that our economy really needs. And I’m sure it will come as no surprise to you that colleges and further education providers, as the life blood of so many communities, are absolutely central to that.
I have spoken before about my personal mission to give the further education sector the recognition it deserves – and I am clear that mission is stronger than ever. 2020 is the time to be bolder and braver than we have been in the past. Over the past few months, we have already seen changes – with a £400 million funding boost for the sector – but this is not the time to take our foot off the pedal. We have an amazing opportunity now to put further and technical education at the top of the agenda, and I want 2020 to be the year that this starts. There are already exciting things to look forward to – the first T Levels will be taught from this September and we will be spending almost £2 billion to upgrade the entire further education estate - so that you have the facilities you need and our colleges can truly be excellent places to learn.
In addition, I also want to recognise and support the hard work of everyone working in the FE sector. Your expertise, passion and dedication makes such a difference to the lives of so many learners. We will continue to invest in your professional development to give you the support and tools you need to help even more people fulfil their potential. All of this helps us to make this a department that drives change and that delivers for all our young people, regardless of their background or where they live.
This year is set to be exciting, ambitious and bold for further education. Thank you again for your continued dedication and commitment and I look forward to working with you to meet the challenges ahead.
Gavin Williamson, Education Secretary