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Gill Alton

Chief Executive selected for government working group

Chief Executive Gill Alton will form part of a select team of seven education leaders set to advise government officials on skills policy.

FE Commissioner Richard Atkins has revealed details of the principals’ reference group, which will be used as a sounding board for subjects such as the development of T-levels.

Speaking to FE Week, who broke the news today, Mr Atkins said he was “very anxious” that Department for Education officials meet those leading the way in further education.

“It’s very important that all these new colleagues consult with the sector,” he told the newspaper.

“There are lots of ways of doing that, but one is to get a group of some of our most experienced and successful leaders to give feedback on policy development on a whole range of things that involve colleges.”

Group members will meet four to six times per year, which Mr Atkins says is to “partly hold me and my team to account”.

He added meetings are also “partly for them to be consulted by officials in the department on policy”.

The first meeting, set to take place later this month, will welcome the team developing T-levels for a discussion about the technical qualifications.

Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Anne Milton is due to attend the second meeting, to help celebrate the inception of the group.

Gill, who will be working alongside the likes of Gateshead College and Chichester College Group, was selected following a rigorous selection process.

“I’m delighted that the Grimsby Institute has been selected to participate in this exciting new programme,” she said.

“Our outstanding team has once again been recognised at a national level with this endorsement by the FE Commissioner.

“We feel hugely privileged to be in a position to have a say in the future of Further Education and look forward to the first meeting later this month.”

Around 30 principals applied to participate in the group, before shortlisted candidates completed a case study based on dealing with a “college with problems”.

Mr Atkins said he was particularly interested in principals that had “improved colleges” rather than those who’d “inherited an ‘outstanding’ college”.

“I’m really pleased with the group I’ve got. I think I’ve got some really good principals there,” he said.

Gill has also been included among Mr Atkins’ first seven recruits for the National Leaders of FE programme, first announced in October.

Operating independently from the principals’ reference group, each national leader is expected to support “a number of colleges that require help to improve”.

Mr Atkins added: “We want these colleges to be the ones that will help grade three colleges – or possibly grade four – to improve.”