Dan Taubman

The thorny question of education professionalism is once again raising its battered head above the parapet. In the Further, Adult, Community and Skills sector a new bottom-up democratic and activist body, Tutor Voices, has been launched.

Tutor Voices came out of a group of FE professionals and academics who wanted to create a truly democratic and participatory, egalitarian, independent, collaborative and campaigning organisation to take forward professional interests.

It was established at a conference at Huddersfield University on International Workers Day and formally launched the day after the General Election in Liverpool at an event to mark the publication of Further Education and the Twelve Dancing Princesses, a book of essays by many of those who founded Tutor Voices.

Over the weekend of 25th September, Tutor Voices held their first event at Northern College and began the process of beginning to spell out its rationale, beliefs, principles and ways forward.

The rationale for Tutor Voices was to promote a critical pedagogy which would be democratic, independent, participatory and inclusive. It was about creating the 'conscious teacher' which was at least in part about knowing why we do things and articulating this and about collaboration with our peers.

It would also be about creating an identity and space for discussion and research and gaining a seat at the decision making tables for the professionals. Part of the rationale of Tutor Voices was about creating teacher identity, confidence and empowerment; and would embrace the diversity of the sector.

The 1st day of the inaugural event was taken up with a series of plenary presentations followed by discussions in smaller groups. Professor Frank Coffield, a founding member of Tutor Voices, gave the sparkling opening address.

Building on his earlier critiques of developments in FE and Skills and their bureaucracies and the marginalisation of FE teachers and trainers, Professor Coffield called for education professionals to have a seat at the top tables where FE policy was being decided because they have a distinctive expertise developed over years of teaching, a collective identity, a service ethic and a set of values and principles.

He went on to criticise the FE Commissioner's criteria for quality which were purely quantitative and reduced quality to an accountant's views. He finished by drawing 3 ideas from his Bill of Rights for professional educators in FE and Skills.

These were that there needed to be a new relationship between the Sector and government, a relationship which was based on creating a shared trust with a self-confident sector; and a sector which was based on strong, stable and financially resilient providers.

Professor Coffield was followed by shorter presentations by Lou Mycroft, a Northern College tutor with some thoughts on organising networks, and by David Powell, an FE teacher educator from Huddersfield University on issues around research and practice in FE. He described 6 roles for the FE teacher educator, part of which was to model values.

He quoted Maire Daley's Freirean mantra: 'there is no such thing as neutral education, education acts as either a process of domestication or liberation'. These plenary presentations were followed by discussions in smaller groups. Although set the task of looking at why a democratic teacher network is needed, and what it might look like and what it should do, the groups roamed well beyond this.

The afternoon started with a brief presentation about the need for communities and networks of practice. It was becoming clear that the early life of Tutor Voices would be shaped by being a network rather than a structured organisation.

Colin Waugh, editor of Post 16 Educator, outlined some of the antecedents of Tutor Voices. There were also short presentations about other FE networks such as the LSRN and on COOCs - community on-line learning networks, rhyzomatic network working and the professional networks that had been established in defence of ESOL.

Subsequent discussions focused on structures for Tutors Voices and campaigning priorities. Although no firm conclusions came out of the discussions on structure there was a general feeling that social media would be useful in getting the news of Tutors Voices and its activities out. Funding would be an issue that would need to be dealt with, as even small amounts of resources would be needed.

Among the early priorities mentioned were the development of a web site, contacts for membership inquiries, using social media such as Facebook and Twitter, having some publications. When it came to organising principles coherence, working at local level and building alliances with other organisations were all put forward.

Throughout the weekend it became clear that at least at the beginning Tutors Voices would be more of a network than a highly structured organisation. The twin organisational arises would be geographical – that is having local/regional meetings and meetings organised around specific curriculum issues and subjects.

In conclusion, there was a great deal of goodwill and commitment to the ideas generated by Tutors Voices. A list of action points were identified and there are to be meetings in the North East and in London in the near future.

Given the recent cuts to further education and especially adult learning already, with even worse to come out of the 2015 Spending Review to be announced at the end of November, the overall message from this 1st Tutor Voices event was in the words of Gramsci, 'the pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will'.

Dan Taubman is the former UCU Senior National Official for FE and Lifelong Learning, and a founder member of Tutor Voices

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

Sharon Walpole added a new event yesterday

CareermapLive: An Introduction to WorldSkills UK...

During this live webinar, you'll have the opportunity to learn about our skills competition development programme which provides colleges,...

  • Wednesday, 28 April 2021 03:30 PM
  • Online Event, UK

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page