College leaders have welcomed the appointment of Justine Greening as education secretary – the first post-holder to have attended a sixth-form college.
Ms Greening also becomes only the second education secretary to have attended any college, according to the Association of Colleges (AoC). She follows in the footsteps of former Labour minister Lord Blunkett, who previously attended Shrewsbury Technical College and Sheffield Richmond College of Further Education.
In her new role, she will preside over all FE and skills, with 19-plus provision being brought over from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to the Department for Education.
Ms Greening sat her A levels at Thomas Rotherham College in 1987, before studying economics at the University of Southampton and going on to train as an accountant. In 2012, she was awarded an AoC Gold Award, after being nominated by her former college. She told the AoC at the timethat the college had opened her mind to the world outside her home town and stimulated her lifelong interest in economics. “Further education is a vital step for so many students," she said. "My time at Thomas Rotherham College put me on a successful path for my future.” She was elected to Parliament in 2005.
Sixth Form Colleges' Association chief executive Bill Watkin said he was “delighted “ at the appointment of a former sixth-form college student. “Sixth form colleges are an invaluable asset to the education system and are now playing an even greater role in leading system-wide improvements. Their work has not always been well understood in the past, but the new secretary of state will know exactly how important and valuable they are.”
Martin Doel, chief executive of the AoC, said: “We look forward to working with Justine Greening as the new education secretary to demonstrate the value of colleges. We are pleased that she has a good knowledge of the further education and skills sector and college issues.”
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