New education secretary Gillian Keegan has spoken of her aims in the role.  Reform of technical education and making sure everyone has access to high quality apprenticeships are what she would most want to look back on as a success, after her time at the department.

Interviewed on “Political Thinking” on BBC Radio 4, she said she left school at 16 to start an apprenticeship at an automotive factory in Kirkby, Merseyside.   It would now be called a rotational degree-level apprenticeship, she said.

For three years, she worked in all the departments, such as tool-making, production, expediting, design, accounts, distribution, and advertising.  “It was the most brilliant apprenticeship because actually by the time you’d gone through these three years you were…  one of the few people who understood how the whole business knitted together,” she said.

Keegan worked for Delco, NatWest, Mastercard, Amadeus IT Group and Travelport, where she was chief marketing officer, before going into politics.

She now has responsibility for education and skills in England.   Asked about grammar schools, she said she didn’t mind them but would be focused on the 90% of children who attend comprehensive schools.

* Jackie Doyle-Price, who was industry minister at BEIS for just three weeks under Liz Truss, said when she had that role that England has never got skills right.  “That’s because these things sit with the Department for Education and it focuses on education more than on skills. That’s something we really have got to grapple with.”

Link to Keegan interview:  BBC iPlayer – Political Thinking with Nick Robinson – 32. The Gillian Keegan One

Halfon back at skills 

Robert Halfon has been confirmed as minister for skills, apprenticeships and higher education – a job he was sacked from by Theresa May after one year in post.  He has spent the intervening five years as chair of the Commons education committee, for which he campaigned strongly.

Halfon has said that funding for FE colleges should be increased.  He has said that the Conservatives should change their name to the Workers’ Party and has been called a “white van-man Tory”.

Halfon replaces Andrea Jenkyns, who was given the role by Boris Johnson in July.

Apprenticeships – low-quality providers 

Workplace apprenticeships in England continue to deliver the poorest quality of all further education types, the Financial Times reports.

Quoting analysis of Department for Education published data by Apprenticeship Data Insights, it says that Ofsted last year graded one-third of apprenticeship provision as requiring improvement or inadequate. That compares with 12% of young people’s classroom and 16% of adult classroom teaching.  Providers are failing to do what is needed to meet the government’s skills aims, the FT reports.

Official figures show that two-thirds of apprenticeships were run by private providers and the rest by colleges and other public bodies.

The Association if Employment and Learning Providers said that a significant number of new providers had been allowed into the market that should have been excluded.  A clear majority of independent providers were good or outstanding, it said.

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