Establish an FE newspaper? Where did that come from?!?

FE Week has been a remarkable journey for me, personally.

I am all too aware that some college principals are confused about my intentions, and wonder where Nick ‘Meddling’ Linford will pop-up next. Now feels the right time to explain more about me and what FE Week is all about.

I had wanted to set up a newspaper for FE for some time, but I knew it was only worth doing if it was done properly, and properly would cost lots of money.

I began trading as Learning and Skills Events Consultancy & Training Ltd (Lsect) in January and following a successful conference season, I was able to invest ‘properly’ in FE Week in the spring.

It’s November and we’re going great guns. We have a talented team; including two experienced journalists, a sales team, designer and a number of freelance specialists. We are continuing to do things properly.

Since I started FE Week, I have visited Number 10, been invited to speak with ministers and shadow ministers and hosted several debates in Parliament.

I have met principals and CEOs and have been invited to some of the sector’s most important conferences. FE Week has most definitely earned its place at the table.

You don’t need me to tell you that journalists do not embrace FE; it’s a complicated sector with its own language. It has been frustrating for me in the past to get journalists to write about FE, and horizon gazing as we do, it’s going to get increasingly difficult.

The newspapers that have had education sections or supplements, like The Times, The Independent and The Guardian have been hemorrhaging pages, education content and in particular FE coverage has suffered. Even the TES’ FE Focus is a shadow of its former self.

I love and champion FE, have an affinity with funding policy and implementation but it seems I am also a businessman with a creative passion.

FE Week is plugging that gaping hole and because of our campaigns, we’re able to bring FE to a wider audience. We’ve been quoted in national newspapers, on BBC channels and websites galore. We’re doing what I intended, we’re bringing FE to the fore.

This is our 11th edition and I’m thrilled. If you’ve been with us since our first pilot back in June, you’ll agree that we’ve been getting better every week.

So, what makes me credible to be the owner and the managing editor of an FE newspaper? I have worked in the FE sector since 2001, most of you know my recent work as an author, consultant and through Lsect but my first taste of news was actually at university.

The University of Edinburgh student newspaper is nationally renowned and I quickly became immersed in the publication. I went from being a photographer to the picture editor, and then design editor all within my first year. From there my first full time job was with the Press Association at the HQ in Victoria.

I love and champion FE, have an affinity with funding policy and implementation but it seems I am also a businessman with a creative passion. In fact I set up my first limited company, specialising in graphic design, in 1999. FE Week is a combination of my passions but it’s not a hobby and it’s not an altruistic venture. It will only survive as a business.

We’ve had some amazing feedback, not all of it good. Most recently we have had to query public accusations of inaccuracies from the National Apprenticeships Service, which they have now withdrawn. I also make not apologies for including some ‘fun’. As I tell my team – if they’re talking about us, “it’s all good”.

There is a real FE Week buzz and I truly believe that we have created a newspaper that the sector has been crying out for.

So, my guarantee is that I am listening, and will strive to ensure FE Week improves week on week. Rule 1: FE only deserves the best.

Nick Linford is Managing Director of Lsect and Managing Editor of FE Week @nicklinford

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  1. Nixon Tod

    Been following from the start – in danger of taking over from FE Focus as primary source for the sector – funding, apprenticeships, agitator, happy tales from the regions – it’s all good! Thanks.