The FE community has paid tribute to the Queen’s “dedication to public service” after it was announced she has died at the age of 96.
The royal family announced the news this evening.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of Schools and Colleges Leaders, said the Queen’s “dedication to public service has been an inspiration to children and adults alike over the past 70 years”.
“We are deeply saddened by her death. She will be hugely missed by the nation, including all those in the world of education where many people will have fond memories of jubilee and other royal events during her reign.
“Through her dignity and unswerving sense of duty the Queen has set an extraordinary example to us all, and she has been a reassuring presence through many turbulent times. We pay tribute to her and we send our deepest sympathies to her family.”
David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “The whole FE sector will want to join with me in paying tribute to Her Majesty The Queen for her many years of service to our country.
“The news of the passing of The Queen is something which has saddened us all. For most of us working in the sector, indeed most of us alive today, it is hard to imagine times without Queen Elizabeth on the throne. The coming days will have an emotional impact on college staff and students alike and it will be important to treat each other with compassion.”
A statement from the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) said: “We are saddened to hear that Her Majesty The Queen has passed away. To spend over 70 years as the monarch is a remarkable achievement. She selflessly carried out her duties in representing the United Kingdom throughout the world. We send our deepest condolences to her friends and family.”
And the Federation of Awarding Bodies, in its tribute, said: “The Federation is deeply saddened by the news of HM The Queen’s passing. In her tireless service to the nation, she has inspired us all. For that we are eternally grateful. Long live The King.”
Education secretary Kit Malthouse said Her Majesty’s “devotion to public service has been an inspiration, and her wisdom and strength have often provided solace to her people in times of darkness, most recently during the pandemic.”
The Queen had a long relationship with the education sector
The monarch had a long-established relationship with the sector, spending a significant amount of time during her 70-year reign visiting schools, colleges, training providers and adult education centres.
Over the past two years, her public outings have been stymied both by Covid and her own ill health, with the Queen having to pull out of many key events due to ongoing issues.
Reaseheath College, which the Queen visited in 2010, tweeted: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of HRH Queen Elizabeth II and our thoughts are with all of the Royal Family at this very sad time.”
With parliamentary business expected to be suspended for 10 days, a list of priority issues in the new education secretary’s in-tray will likely be on hold.
The day of Her Majesty’s funeral will be one of national mourning, but it is up to employers whether their staff can take the day off.
Government guidance published this evening states that FE settings should remain open during a period of national mourning.