From education to employment

FE News launch new publishing platform as part of 18th anniversary celebrations

Gavin OMeara

The FE News family have launched a new website, publishing platform, along with a new rebrand as a part of our 18th-anniversary celebrations.

FE News introduces a new publishing platform moving FE News from thought leadership into collective intelligence and collective intelligence hubs.

The new site and platform was a year-long build from the ground up, with a purpose to bring the FE, Employability and Skills eco-system together. As a collective to inspire and offer solutions to our biggest challenges of today and tomorrow, all together as a collective to encourage positive change and hope for a better tomorrow.

CEO and Founder of FE News Gavin O’Meara shares the inspiration and purpose of the new FE News site and publishing platform:

I am so excited to share the new FE News site and publishing platform with everyone. This has been a year in the making, from the ground-up development. A massive thank you and massive credit to Kelly, my co-director and wife… massive proud colleague and husband moment here. If you didn’t realise already, yes, FE News is a family run business.. and for the past year, we have lived and breathed this development, re-brand and re-look at who we are and what we want our legacy to be and defining our purpose. It has been exciting, hard work and fun… I can’t wait for everyone to get involved and take this to the next level.

As you know FE News is 18 years old. It’s a massive milestone for a digital publishing business. It got me thinking, what do we want our legacy to be? Does everyone really understand the purpose of FE News, our values and what we want to achieve as a collective?

So we built this from the ground up. Back in 2003, in a spare bedroom on the Isle of Dogs, to moving to our first office in Container City in East London, to upping and moving to Devon and the office in the Forestry Commission to the now hybrid working of the team at home and HQ next to the Met Office… it has taken us on a journey… but our core values, purpose and drive for FE News has remained the same:

To bring the Employability, Skills and FE sector together, to bring together diverse voices, views and opinions that represent the whole FE Community. Most importantly to share solutions, so we can all be inspired to make impactful change for learners, for educators, for leaders, to make positive changes for employers and communities.

We’ve just taken this up a notch. Thank you so, so much to our amazing contributors, before the site launch we had over 5,900 newsrooms on FE News, we regularly have over 250 pieces of content live every week. That is a lot of content. So we wanted to start to segment this, but also encourage interaction across the Skills eco-system.

Why the new brand for FE News?

So we decided to colour code the content. So Skills is one colour code, Employability, Leadership, EdTech etc. I find using colour codes really helpful to see the bigger picture, so we decided to use this on FE News. I also wanted to use a fade of the colours into each other as the Skills Eco-system has to be interconnected. The result was a rainbow. Which is brilliant, as rainbows represent inclusion, diversity, diverse voices and opinions. Which we have been all about for 18 years. Rainbows also signify hope and particularly hope for a better tomorrow – this again was the whole reason why we launched FE News is a spare bedroom on the Isle of Dogs back in 2003, how can we as a collective come together to promote positive change? As no one has all of the answers… but as a collective, and as a collective of diverse voices, views and opinions, we sure have a better chance of getting there.

We have decided to it was time to move from solution led thought leadership into collective intelligence. To pool all of those amazing ideas, solutions and strategies into collective intelligence hubs, and to encourage outcomes. To bring experts together to share their views and opinions to improve the sector of the now, but most importantly to come up with ideas for the future.

Collective Intelligence Hubs

The idea of the collective intelligence hubs came about when I was on a community project planting thousands of trees in an empty and pretty scrappy field between my house and the office. It was just before the pandemic and lockdown 1. In the lashing rain, with the Dad tunes plugged into my ears and my hood up, as I got into the rhythm of planting the trees, I started to think about what I wanted as the legacy of FE News and what I wanted to do in my life.

I decided: I want to plant trees. More importantly, I want to encourage other people to plant trees. I was pretty good at planting trees, but as a community collective, we planted thousands over a few days.

When we were transforming this field into a wood… we were planting several different species of trees to encourage diversity and also resilience in the long term. I loved it, it felt good and it’s good for the soul. I remembered when we had our office in Cookworthy Forest, in a forestry commission building overlooking Dartmoor, I mean what a place.

I came across a term from the Area Manager, called Mark: “planting trees that I will sit under, nor enjoy their fruit“.

Wow, what a Legacy. He knew that all of the thousands of trees he was planting, he’d never see them fully mature and he was planning for the future, adapting species and looking at the horizon.

So I got thinking, I don’t own a wood, but I do own a rapidly expanding digital publishing platform that I want and always have wanted to be a power of good.

Many of you know, I didn’t have the greatest educational experience when I was younger and one of the main reasons for launching FE News back in 2003 was to try and encourage positive change, so as other learners in the future didn’t have the same experience as me, that you can be anything and that where you live, your surname, how you look or whatever.. should be a barrier to learning or progression. To be perfectly frank, nothing should restrict someone to have access to opportunities to learn, to progress and to have an open ceiling for the future. Thing is, I don’t have the answers or solutions… but the skills eco-system is massive, together we can have a good crack at making a better system for tomorrow.

On FE News we already had an open journalism model, a model where we encourage solution led thought leadership and diverse voices and views.. and it’s growing (we have had 800% growth in traffic over the past 4 years). I remember when we had 20 articles per week and it felt brilliant, we now have 250, some weeks 350 pieces of content. What if our FE Community could come together, continue to share ideas and solutions for a better tomorrow, but also come together to plant trees that will bear fruit for tomorrow. To purposely address the challenges of today, but most importantly tomorrow. I got proper excited!

Let’s all plant trees for a better tomorrow

I see each collective intelligence hub as a tree. With help from the collective, it will grow, be nurtured and bear fruit. That fruit are the outcomes. If we can ensure that each tree is built upon a foundation of different voices, ideas and solutions. It will be good fruit.

So I want to encourage the FE, Employability and Skills community to get planting those trees. Both physical ones… but to set up and establish Collective Intelligence hubs. We can direct some, but I want to encourage the sector to support ourselves, not through my limited lens and World view, but as a collective of diverse views, experiences and opinions. Then we are democratising content, solutions and ideas.

It’s exciting and that is the legacy that I want to pass on for the next stage for FE News. I’ve been doing this for 18 years.. but, I will not be here forever, a bit like Mark and his role as Area Manager for his woodlands in the Forestry Commission. He is just prepping it, getting it ready for the long term, to be sustainable and perpetual for the long term. It’s a legacy.

At FE News – it is the next stage of what we have been doing already for 18 years, I am sooooo excited.

The vision for the Future of FE News

So there is it, the new FE News website and platform is all about the future and also about legacy, the legacy of FE News will be a platform and hub for collective intelligence from across the sector on key topic areas in the Skills Eco-system, the collective to come together to share solutions and ideas. For now and most importantly for the future. So we are planting trees and that is a brilliant legacy.

The re-brand is to help segment the content to meet the audience’s interest across the wide Skills Eco-system, so as when we grow and have 1,000 pieces of content per week on FE News it isn’t overwhelming for our audience.

I have recently found out I am neurodiverse and colour coding helps me break things down and helps me see the big picture. Doing this created a rainbow, that also signifies the diversity of content, that everyone is invited to get involved and that it is inclusive, every voice and opinion about FE, Skills and Employability. A rainbow also represents HOPE, who doesn’t need a bit of hope in their lives and particularly hope for a better tomorrow for our learners, educators, leaders, to deliver impactful change for learners, employers and communities.

This is the purpose of FE News, but we can’t get there without the collective of the Skills Eco-system coming together, getting on our metaphorical wellies and start planting trees for a better tomorrow. So are you up for planting some trees with me? It’s good for the soul!

Gavin O’Meara, CEO and Founder, FE News and FE Careers

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  1. Hi Gavin, congratulations on the site relaunch – it looks really good. I’m really intrigued by the potential power of collective intelligence, so I’m glad that’s in your plans. I just had a look at your first collective intelligence hub, and I like the ability to have discussions but also to save documents. I think for collective intelligence, it’s key that you are able to effectively ‘bank’ key knowledge rather than just have it come through as news (or a ‘flow’). I wonder if you’ve looked into the possibility of using a tool such as Kialo – I’m also neurodiverse, and love how information is laid out here – key info is stored and up-voted if many people agree with it, but there’s also the potential to add contrasting opinions. It’s a fantastic debate platform, and I think something like that could really help the community of FE news to compile their intelligence and form strong collective arguments and evidence in a complete, rigorous way. Just an idea – would love to see something like that on the site one day! Congrats again, and best of luck with it.