As I write these words, I’m hurtling through the countryside on a train heading back to Peterborough, having left FE Week for the final time after possibly the busiest and most exciting eight months of my five-year working life.
So why leave? Well, the aforementioned location for writing this piece, as well as the small digitals shining ‘9.25pm’ in the bottom corner of my laptop screen, give you an insight into the decision.
But as the cliché goes, and I love a good cliché, sometimes you get an opportunity you can’t let pass you by – and it is this situation I have found myself in these past few weeks.
But is it goodbye to FE forever? I honestly hope not. These eight months opened my eyes to a vibrant, exciting, and somewhat misunderstood sector.
There is so much good going on in FE and it’s a pleasure to say since the very first edition of FE Week in September of last year, I have been near the forefront of some of its biggest successes.
It was in those first few days that I first heard of what of was to be my favourite part of working at FE Week; WorldSkills London 2011, which took place just two months later in November.
Over four days, the ExCel was my home – reporting live and filing copy from this huge international event. It allowed me to meet many famous faces, from fine dining with Eddy the Eagle, to a very brief “Q&A” with Boris Johnson (well, one question).
But, the more lasting memory is that it also allowed me to see exactly what FE is all about; thousands of students and teachers showcasing their skills, surrounded by proud parents, friends and supporters. And how great was it to see Team UK come away with a record showing?
The same month also saw another major highlight of my time at FE Week, which was the Association of Colleges’ Annual Conference and Exhibition in Birmingham.
Three days of policy and debate – not only busy schedule-wise, but also a steep learning curve for me – still only new in the sector at the time.
You have all contributed to what has been a thoroughly enjoyable part of my career
I doubt I’ll help move a whole newspaper office, computers and all, to set up camp in a hotel for a half-a-week to cover an event ever again!
The conference also introduced me to the sociable side of FE at the FE Week charity auction. Not only was it a really fun night, but to be part of something that raised so much money for a worthy cause, the Helena Kennedy Foundation, is something that will stay with me for a long time.
So, what about the future and FE Week? Well, a new education journalist will arrive next week and she will be a valuable addition to the team. In fact, it may even be easier with one less Nick in the office!
Joking aside, FE Week has grown significantly since launching eight months ago – to be honest, probably more than I expected prior to my arrival! Its impact on the FE sector is clear for all to see and plans for the future are progressing very well.
It has a hugely talented team, especially on the editorial side with Nick Summers and Dan Duke, and great background staff. It goes without saying that I wish them well for the future.
I think that’s everything, other than to say that it has been a pleasure to work with every one of you. You have all contributed to what has been a thoroughly enjoyable part of my career. Thank you and good luck!
former deputy editor of FE Week