The outgoing Further Education Commissioner, Sir Richard Atkins, addressed staff, students and stakeholders at London South East Colleges this week - sharing his insight and experience of the sector.

The virtual event, part of the College’s ‘Landmark Lecture’ series, gave the audience an opportunity to hear Sir Richard look back at the last few years in FE and talk about his hopes and expectations for the future. 

Head of FE at the TES, Julia Belgutay, hosted the online lecture, leading the Q&A session which followed Sir Richard’s talk.  

Addressing his virtual audience, Sir Richard spoke about his background in FE and journey to his most recent role as FE Commissioner. He emphasised his commitment to inclusion and drive to support a more collaborative way of working. He said: “When working to its full potential, the FE sector is truly awesome. I’m pleased to see that it is much better placed than it was six years ago.  

“It’s clear that good governance and leadership is key to success and there is much of this within the sector. 80% of colleges are now Good or Outstanding, which is testament to the hard work and commitment of leaders, staff and students. 

“Going forward, I believe FE will be even stronger in 10 years. The recent FE White Paper – Skills for Jobs – is both evolutionary and revolutionary. We must continue to put the focus on learners and I would l love to see a rise in the number of young people and adults opting for higher technical courses as an alternative to degrees.”

In addition, the event provided the opportunity for the College to launch its new book – 'Leading Change, Inspiring Learners’. 

The book charts the organisation’s journey over several years, sharing experience and the many changes it has undergone – while celebrating success and the commitment of staff, students and stakeholders. 

Dr Sam Parrett OBE, CEO of London & South East Education Group said: “We are most grateful to Sir Richard for taking the time to deliver a Landmark Lecture today. After four years in the role of FE Commissioner, his insight is fascinating and of great value to the staff, students and stakeholders listening. 

“I am also delighted to be officially launching our book today. After several years in the making, it is fantastic to have our journey up until this point documented – and credit goes to the many people who have worked so hard to get our organisation to where it is now. 

“As Richard said, change is relentless in our sector and hopefully our book support other FE leaders to manage their own periods of change.  

“We now look forward to the next stage of our journey, focusing on adding social value to our communities and supporting the rebuilding of the economy post Covid.” 

Following the Lecture, the audience was given the opportunity to ask Sir Richard questions. A recording of the complete event including the Q&A will be available shortly on this page. 

This was the latest in a series of landmark lectures given to London South East Colleges’ staff and students by some of the most senior figures from the public services, business and charity sectors. Previous speakers have included Matthew Trainer, Chief Executive of the Oxleas Trust, former CEO of Lloyds of London, Dame Inga Beale, former Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton, Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, Police Commander Dr David Musker, Ofsted Chair Professor Julius Weinberg, Business Entrepreneur David Gold and many more.



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