England’s education ministers have in recent years been reluctant to mingle on the international stage. During his tenure at the Department for Education, for example, Michael Gove reportedly needed merely the flimsiest of excuses to sack off international ministerial gatherings.
But as the prospect of Brexit looms ever closer, it appears that the government is waking up to the fact that it should be doing more to boost the country’s profile. During the last few days, in no sector has this been clearer than in FE.
Last week, international trade secretary Liam Fox spoke at the Whitehall launch of the UK Skills Partnership, a cross-sector push to market English FE as an attractive, marketable export. The government would, he told guests, do “everything in our power to help you export, expand, succeed”.
And on Monday, the apprenticeships and skills minister Anne Milton joined Team UK (and, naturally, Tes) in Abu Dhabi for WorldSkills 2017 – the first minister to attend an international skills event outside of the UK since 2009. So, hats-off to the ministers who are finally shouting about the FE sector’s strengths.