Press release

Richard Atkins CBE appointed as Further Education Commissioner

Richard Atkins takes on the role from current FE Commissioner Sir David Collins who will be retiring in November 2016.


The Department for Education has today (17 October 2016) announced that Richard Atkins CBE has been appointed to the role of Further Education (FE) Commissioner and will lead the government’s work to boost the quality of further education in England.

Richard Atkins takes on the role from current FE Commissioner Sir David Collins who will be retiring in November 2016.

A former Principal and Chief Executive at Exeter College and Yeovil College, Richard has an exceptional record of raising standards and improving outcomes for learners. During his tenure, he led Exeter from a ‘satisfactory’ rating, to a sustained Ofsted ‘outstanding’ grade. He is a past President of the Association of Colleges and currently Chair of AoC Sport.

In his roles in Exeter and Yeovil, Richard increased delivery of apprenticeships and higher-level skills and developed strong relationships with businesses, universities and schools.

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, we 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, said:

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, outgoing FE Commissioner, 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.

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Published 17 October 2016