The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997

1993Prime Minister (1990-1997)

Mr Major’s Speech to Principals and Chairs of Governing Bodies – 1 March 1993

Below is the text of Mr Major’s speech to the Principals and Chairs of Governing Bodies, made on 1st March 1993.


Nearly two years ago I launched the White Paper “Education and Training for the 21st Century”. I launched it myself because I passionately believe we must open up wider and better opportunities for young people and adults.

A key part of that reform has been the establishment of the new further education sector. It comes into effect next month. From that time, FE colleges will be cut loose from control by local authorities, and you will gain a new freedom. Freedom to plan courses with much more certainty that the necessary funds will be available. Freedom to expand to meet student demand. Freedom to respond to the needs of local employers. Freedom to manage your own finances and your own buildings.

We didn’t make this change for ideological reasons. We made it for the strictly practical reason that we want more and better further education.

We want all young people to develop to the best of their ability. We want to give adults the option of a “second chance”. We want to ensure that British business and industry has people with the right skills. In the global market place, we need a world class workforce. That must start with education.

The priority we give to further education is reflected in our public expenditure plans. They provide for an unprecedented 25 % increase in student numbers over the next three years. That increased number of students will be taking an improved range of qualifications: the new General National Vocational Qualifications will stand alongside equally esteemed A levels and National Vocational Qualifications.

The Government’s commitment is reflected in the National Education and Training Targets. And in John Patten’s proposal for a Charter for the further education sector.

But, of course, none of this happens without people. In particular, without you. I would like to welcome everyone here tonight, especially you, nearly 500 college principals; the chairmen of governors – representing the wealth of local expertise freely brought to bear in each college governing body; and of course Bob Gunn, Bill Stubbs and all the other members and officers of the Further Education Funding Council.

Over two million students – full and part time – are educated in your colleges. You have a key role to play. You face new responsibilities as well as new freedoms. I give you my very best wishes for the future.