Our Speakers

Ayesha Hazarika by Steve Ullathorne (002).jpg
MatthewSyed_13056-355-Speaker (002).jpg

The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson MP - Secretary of State for Education

The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP was appointed Secretary of State for Education on 24 July 2019.

In the three months Gavin has served as Education Secretary, he has visited nine colleges across the country and fronted the Government’s FE funding announcements following the Spending Round.

Unusually for a Cabinet Minister, Mr Williamson is a former college student, having attended Scarborough Sixth Form College, and has set out his ambitions "to super-charge further education over the next decade."


Ayesha Hazarika MBE

Ayesha Hazarika MBE is a columnist and broadcaster who is known for her insightful and witty opinions and observations on current affairs and politics.

Ayesha previously worked for Gordon Brown, Harriet Harman and Ed Miliband, advising them on Prime Minister’s Questions, speeches, media and policy as well as heading up initiatives on topics such as Women and Equality.

In 2019, Ayesha took over as Editor of The Londoner, the Evening Standard’s Daily Diary section, where she distils the latest news and insights from across the capital.


Anita Anand - Broadcaster

Anita is a leading BBC news and politics broadcaster having taken over from Jonathan Dimbleby as host of Radio 4’s debate programme Any Answers.

She has also co-presented The Daily Politics with Andrew Neil and 5Live’s Sunday morning show exploring the stories behind the headlines.

Anita will be this year’s AoC conference chair, sharing her insights and interviewing some of the biggest names from further education and beyond.


Matthew Syed - Writer, Broadcaster and Thought Leader

Back by popular demand, Matthew is a highly acclaimed speaker in the field of high performance, working with leading organisations to build a mindset of continuous improvement.

A multi-award winning journalist and bestselling author, Matthew will be delving into his new book - Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking, arguing that individual intelligence is no longer enough to solve today’s complex problems; to truly succeed we must harness the power of 'cognitive diversity'.

Paul Johnson.png

Paul Johnson - Director, Institute for Fiscal Studies

Paul has been director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies since January 2011. Previous roles have included time as chief economist at the Department for Education and as director of public spending at HM Treasury, where he also served as deputy head of the government economic service.

A hugely respected figure, Paul will be discussing the state of education funding and what the future may hold.

David Hughes (3).jpg
Julie Nerney.jpg

David Hughes - Chief Executive, AoC

David Hughes became Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges in September 2016.

He was previously CEO at Learning and Work Institute, a leading think tank, research and policy organisation which was formed in 2016 from a merger he led between NIACE and Inclusion.

From 2000 to 2011, David worked in senior roles at the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) and the Learning and Skills Council.


Julie Nerney - Chair, AoC

Julie is Chair of the Board at Greater Brighton Metropolitan College, and holds a number of Non-Executive and Chair roles across a portfolio which spans the public, private and third sectors.

Her Non-Executive career is driven by her passion for excellence in governance and creating high performing boards.


Steve Frampton MBE - President, AoC

Steve Frampton was Principal of Portsmouth College for 13 years before retiring to serve as AoC President in August 2018. Steve is in his second term as President and continues to be a vocal advocate for our #LoveOurColleges campaign.

In 2017, Steve was awarded an MBE for Services to Education.