Richard Atkins CBE has been announced as the new FE Commissioner. Richard will take on the role from current FE Commissioner Sir David Collins who will be retiring in November 2016.

Richard Atkins retired as the Principal of Exeter College earlier this year. During his tenure at Exeter College he help steer the college from a ‘satisfactory’ rating, to a sustained Ofsted ‘outstanding’ grade. He was alps is a past President of the Association of Colleges and currently Chair of AoC Sport. So out of the two FE Commissioners to take on the role, both have previously been the President of the Association of Colleges.

The FE Commissioner heads the current programme of area reviews of post-16 education and training, and leads the commissioner intervention process to drive improvement in colleges when colleges fail an Ofsted inspection, or are found to be financially inadequate.

Richard will play a central part in the government’s plans to create a further education sector that is responsive to the needs of learners, employers and the economy.

Alongside Richard, the DfE have appointed 3 Deputy FE Commissioners - Steve Hutchinson, Cindy Rampersaud and Andrew Tyley - whom Richard will work closely with and who all have strong experience within the existing FE Commissioner team. They will join John Hogg and David Williams, who are existing Deputy Commissioners.

Marilyn Hawkins has confirmed that she will step down as a Deputy Commissioner alongside Sir David, after leading the completion of the area review process in London.

Skills Minister Robert Halfon said:

“Congratulations to Richard Atkins on his new role as FE Commissioner. High-quality further education colleges are engines of social mobility, creating opportunities for people of all backgrounds to get the skills they need to succeed. In Exeter and Yeovil, Richard has demonstrated that he is an exceptional leader. I am confident that he will use his skills to improve delivery and unlock opportunities for learners across the country to go further in learning and their careers.

I would like to thank Sir David Collins for his inspirational work in driving up standards in the sector and in improving outcomes for learners. I would also like to pay tribute to the outstanding contribution made by Marilyn Hawkins. Their positive work will continue to benefit learners for decades to come.”

The new FE Commissioner, Richard Atkins, comments on the announcement:

“I am delighted and honoured to take on this key role in the further education colleges sector. I am keen to build on the work that Sir David Collins and his team have begun over the past 2 years, and to work with colleagues in colleges to develop a high-quality and financially sustainable network of colleges across England which provide the very best technical and professional education for learners, employers and local communities”.

Sir David Collins, whoo is retiring from the current FE Commissioner role, said:

“I am pleased to congratulate Richard Atkins on his appointment as my successor as FE Commissioner. Richard will bring extensive experience of further education and skills training to the role and I am confident this will prove invaluable in continuing the work of the commissioner. I welcome him to the role”.

Gill Clipson, Deputy Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC), said: “Richard Atkins is an excellent choice as FE Commissioner and he will bring a wealth of wisdom and experience to the role. From his time both as a college principal and as a former President of the Association of Colleges, he is well aware of the challenges faced by the sector and the vital role that colleges play.

“We look forward to working with Richard to make sure we get the best for colleges and the communities they serve.”

Commenting on the appointment of Richard Atkins CBE, as the new FE Commissioner, Paul Eeles, Chief Executive of the Skills and Education Group said:

“I would like to congratulate Richard on his new role as FE Commissioner. Richard is incredibly experienced and has a lot of knowledge within the further education and skills sector.

“Richard will know first-hand about the challenges that colleges are facing and will be able to draw upon his experiences as a principal of an outstanding college. I look forward to working with Richard during his time as the new FE Commissioner.”

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