Chief Executive David Hughes writes to Tes Chairman, Jo Johnson in response to the decision to scrap FE coverage

09 Aug 2021

Chief Executive of Association of Colleges, David Hughes has today written to the Chairman of Tes, Jo Johnson, highlighting his shock and sadness at the recent announcement to stop its dedicated coverage of the further education and skills sector. As part of a shift in Tes’ focus towards more teaching and learning, research-based content for schools, it seems that there will no longer be a dedicated FE team or presence. The full letter is available to read below and download. 

Dear Jo,

I am writing to express my, and the further education sector’s shock and sadness at the recent announcement to scrap Tes’s dedicated further education coverage. For the last 25 years, Tes has been an influential and authoritative voice in technical and further education, helping leaders and practitioners to navigate change and championing college successes. It has supported a sector which is vital for our country, economy and levelling up and it has successfully held successive governments and institutions to account. The response to last week’s statement from all parts of the education sector shows that this will be a very real loss, felt by many and a loss that will grow and grow over the coming months and years.

As you know, we have been fighting for further education and colleges to be understood, respected and recognised for many years, so it was heartening to hear recently the Prime Minister say “we need to escalate the value of practical and vocational education that can transform people’s lives” and the Education Secretary say that “reforming post-16 education and skills is at the heart of [government] plans to build back better.”

Tes and your FE team played a huge role in that shift in perceptions of a sector which educates and trains more than two million people in England each year. With the Skills Bill now in Parliament, and the world of work changed forever because of the pandemic, the digital revolution, and the push for green jobs, further and technical education is unarguably more important than ever before. Which makes a robust sector press even more important.

For the last 100 years, Tes has helped to lead the education sector, and is one of the most respected brands in journalism. I know that funding that journalism is extremely challenging and have seen the diversification of the Tes offer grow in recent years. I wonder though, whether stepping away from editorial and news risks long term damage to the Tes brand and whether that will impact on the attitude of college leaders and practitioners to Tes commercial relationships, products and offerings.

I would be keen to meet with you and the Tes team to work out how we can secure a long-term relationship between Tes and the further education sector. I would like to see continuation of Tes reporting on important FE news and a space for commentary. With your move focus on research and pedagogy, I would hope you are able to include the brilliant work happening in colleges as well as schools. Education is an ecosystem in which all institutions need to share, develop and thrive.

As the membership body for colleges, AoC plays a vital role in helping you to make a success of your FE offer, so please be assured that I and my team are ready to support you to make it happen. I have been proud to make a weekly contribution to the Tes for over three years now and am sad at the thought that Tes will no longer be part of our vital FE sector.

Best wishes,
David Hughes,
Chief Executive, Association of Colleges