With the end of 2015 in sight, we asked Whitehall's top officials to review the year, set out their priorities for 2016 – and shed some light on their festive plans. Department for Education permanent secretary Chris Wormald takes part in our biggest-ever perm secs' round-up series
How did you tackle the biggest challenges facing your organisation in 2015?
Our two biggest challenges this year directly flowed from the general election. The first was to support the secretary of state and her ministerial team as they developed their priorities for the new parliament. The second was to ensure that we were equipped to meet the significant delivery challenges posed by the new government’s ambitious manifesto commitments to deliver three million apprenticeships, create 500 free schools, turn around failing and coasting schools, and provide 30 hours of free childcare for working parents of 3- and 4-year-olds.
We’ve already made considerable progress on these challenges, not least through the rapid introduction of two significant pieces of legislation – the Education and Adoption Bill and the Childcare Bill – into parliament. These successes are a testament to the hard work and commitment of colleagues across the department.
What are your department’s top priorities in the year ahead?
Our priorities for the year ahead, and for the course of the next parliament, will be delivering three broad objectives: ensuring that children and young people are protected from harm and that vulnerable children are supported to succeed with opportunities as good as those for any other child; making sure that young people have access to an excellent education regardless of their birth or background so that they can fulfil their potential; and ensuring that 19-year-olds leave school or college with the skills, knowledge and character traits needed to go on to work or higher education and succeed in modern Britain.
What film do you hope to watch over the festive period – and what’s the best game to play with the family on Christmas Day?
At this point, I have to confess that I don’t like Christmas movies much! The films that I like tend to be more like Blade Runner and not exactly Christmassy! We’ll definitely go and see the new Star Wars film over Christmas, though. I’m a much bigger fan of board games. Cluedo is probably my favourite, just beating Monopoly!
Perm secs round-up 2015: Whitehall's top civil servants review the year – and look ahead to 2016