New education secretary Gavin Williamson has said teachers should feel “proud of their achievements” as over 200,000 students prepare to find out their A-level results this morning.
In one of his first comments since becoming education secretary three weeks ago, Williamson thanked teachers and schools for their hard work.
“Everyone receiving results today should feel proud of their achievements – as should the thousands of teachers that supported them in our brilliant schools and colleges,” he said.
“Today marks the culmination of years of hard work which it’s right to recognise at this time of year.”
Over 200,000 pupils will collect their A level results this morning in a year where record numbers of 18-year-olds have applied to go onto higher education.
Williamson added: “Of course, the minds of thousands of young people getting their results will soon turn to the next chapter in their lives, whether that’s a place at one of our world class universities, earning on an apprenticeship or entering the world of work – and I hope every one of them is excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for them.”
Today’s results are expected to confirm provisional exams data in May that revealed entries into A-level Maths and English had fallen.
Experts have suggested the fall could be attributed to a focus by policymakers on STEM subjects – with take-up of sciences rising.
Williamson, who was sacked as defence secretary over allegations he leaked confidential information, is still getting his feet under the table after being handed the education post in prime minister Boris Johnson’s reshuffle.
He’s yet to make a major speech or announcement, but the Times has reported Williamson will put three Fs – funding, further education and free schools – at the heart of his education policy.
Schools are still waiting to hear about the full details of Johnson’s pledge to up school funding by £4.6 billion per year by 2022. It was recently announced the government will now have a one-year spending review because of Brexit – instead of the anticipated multi-year review that would have set out budget levels for the coming years.
Williamson – the first education secretary to personally take the further education and skills brief – also vowed yesterday to put technical education on a par with academic qualifications.
Speaking on vocational results day, he said: “Technical and vocational educational has played second fiddle to traditional academic options for too long. In three years’ time the look and feel of results day will be very different, with students getting their T Level results celebrating their hard work alongside those getting their A levels.”
The DfE has also confirmed Richard Holden has been appointed as a special adviser to Williamson and will take the lead on media. The policy adviser role is still to be filled.
Holden previously served as an adviser to Chris Grayling at the department for transport. It was reported earlier this year the Ministry of Defence had to pay him £20,000 after officials handed secret details of his private life to prosecutors.
Holden, who was a special adviser to former defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon at the time, had been accused of sexual assault, but was cleared following a trial last year.