This year brought a wealth of interesting developments for FE Week to cover – from a new government to long-awaited details on apprenticeship reforms and the outcomes of a number of area reviews.

But none of this would have been the same without FE Week’s brilliant cartoonist Bill Houston to capture the key events, and we have gathered his work below for readers to review some of 2016’s top moments in FE.

Nick Boles featured most often in what turned out to be his final year as skills minster, making seven animated appearances. 

But he was soon succeeded by the new minister for apprenticeships and skills, Robert Halfon, who was so pleased with his first FE Week caricature that he requested a copy to hang in his office. 

Other FE figures who featured three times or more in cartoons this year included David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, and his predecessor Martin Doel; Mark Dawe, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers; former FE commissioner Sir David Collins; Peter Lauener, chief executive of the Skills Funding Agency and Education Funding Agency, and shadow chief executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships; and the prime minister herself, Theresa May.

Bill was also quick on the draw at the Association of Colleges conference this November, where he could be found meeting delegates and sketching dozens of familiar sector faces (pictured above).

And FE Week’s December portrayal of a magical Sir Michael Wilshaw, his third and final appearance in the paper this year before retiring from his role as Ofsted’s chief inspector, even made it onto a delicious cake to celebrate his time in office. 

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Rediscover our year in cartoons here:

Edition 159, January 11 – College resorts to £700k from local council

Edition 160, January 18 – Sector figures gather for Learning and Work Institute launch

Edition 161, January 25 – Policy Consortium letter challenges Wilshaw over ‘inadequate at best’ claim

Edition 162, February 1 – NUS launches campaign to hear FE students’ views

Edition 163, February 8 – Cost of college bailouts as high as £100m

Edition 164, February 22 – Frustration over ‘misleading’ Libor answer

Edition 165, February 29 – Brexit possibility raises skills funding questions *By Stan Dupp

Edition 166, March 7 – Struggling London college in talks with Newcastle group

Edition 167, March 14 – Boles weighs in — Sir Michael ‘disagrees with himself’

Edition 169, April 11 – Agency under fire for refusing to list changes to quals

Edition 170, April 18 – Colleges agree ‘hub and spoke’ London proposal could work

Edition 171, April 25 – DfE accounts late and lack ‘truth and fairness’

Edition 172, May 2 – Ofsted drops probe into ‘brave’ inspector

Edition 173, May 9 – Sector leaders left ‘outside the tent’ on reforms

Edition 174, May 16 – Revised accounts show principal annual pay packet of £358,000

Edition 175, May 23 – Here we Gove again: Now we’re getting academies for prisons

Edition 176, June 6 – Employers told to stick to ‘core business’ after Citroën blow

Edition 177, June 13 – Sir David Collins to step down before area reviews complete

Edition 178, June 20 – Osborne’s Brexit budget warns of £1.15bn cuts in education spending

Edition 179, June 27 – AELP boss accuses government of distorting market against ITPs


Edition 180, July 4 – Education ministers back Gove on road to Number 10

Edition 181, September 12 – Halfon should ask the Treasury to hand back the savings and fully fund younger apprentices

Edition 182, September 19 – Motor Industry boss gives both barrels to PM over funding cuts

Edition 183, September 26 – New FE commissioner revealed, and there are two

Edition 184, October 3 – It’s a CEO hat-trick for Peter Lauener as he takes on the IfA

Edition 185, October 10 – Conservatives talk big on skills agenda ahead of Budget

Edition 188, November 7 – Lammy accuses Halfon of hoodwinking parliament on funding cuts

Edition 187, October 17 – Lead officials given grilling by Public Accounts Commitee

Edition 189, November 14 – AoC and AELP bosses battle over independent provider quality

Edition 190, November 21 – Guess the FE cartoons!

Edition 191, November 28 – Gloomy Brexit forecast means projected levy pot will fall by £200m

Edition 192, December 5 – Wilshaw contradicts own report with ‘personal’ english and maths attack

Edition 193, December 12 – ‘Incredibly unfair’ funding quirk riles colleges

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