Chris Thomson, Education Consultant and former sixth form college principal.

Maybe you’ve heard the one about the three brickies on the building site? They’re all asked what they’re doing

The first says: ‘Laying bricks’

The second: ‘Building this wall’

The third: ‘Building a cathedral’.

Well last week I actually visited a cathedral – took my old mum there as a matter of fact. And having had a good look round, off we went to the café to get some lunch. Troop up to the counter, clock the menu, get mum sat down and go and order.

‘One soup and one lamb, please.’

‘Sorry, the lamb’s run out,’ he says.

‘Run after it then,’ I think, a bit cheesed off. No lamb, so Mum gets a quiche and I’m left wondering about the poor service.

This is an ordinary Wednesday, not a saint’s day, not a bank holiday, plain ordinary Wednesday, it’s 12:30 and they’re out of lamb. How has that happened?

It could be a mistake’s been made with the ordering or maybe they’re a staff member down. But I was struck by the waiter’s manner. He told me about the lamb as blankly as he would have told me the time.

It clearly didn’t matter to him at all what food was available or not, whether they were advertising dishes that didn’t exist or what impact any of this had on the public he was there to serve.

But it should have mattered. What’s my old mum going to tell her friends (apart from me thinking quiche was acceptable... ‘Quiche!!?’)? ‘Cathedral’s magnificent, the exhibition fascinating but definitely avoid their café.’

Poor reputation leading to lost revenue and less for the upkeep of a magnificent, thousand-year-old cathedral.

Somehow a very simple and robust idea – the café keeps the cathedral standing – had died before ever it reached the counter.

It’s a strong probability that the person in charge of the catering really understood it. She may even have been there at the start and had had to make the case for a café on that hallowed site.

So they’d built the café but lost the purpose and my hunch is it happened because of the Law of Diminishing Mission, which states that:

Without constant attention, as an initiative passes down a management hierarchy, routine elbows purpose out the way.

Step 1: When the boss works the idea through with the senior team, everyone’s on board with it.

Step 2: When each senior manager talks with their team the emphasis starts to fall on the practicalities of implementation and the fundamental purpose is only 1/4 as strong as it was.

Step 3: When each member of that team speaks with those they lead, the big idea gets a brief mention at best, say 1/9 of its original strength.

Judging by the waiter’s behaviour I’d guess he was four steps from the start of the process at least. He behaved as if his job had no purpose at all beyond where it fitted in his private life: children to look after…. maybe an ailing parent…. rent to find…. bills to pay.

Which is why I wasn’t in the least upset by his manner. If anything, I upset for him. No one higher up the organisation had taken five minutes every week to remind everyone of the importance of what they were engaged in or from time to time tell them what difference their hard work had made.

For want of taking a bit of interest in their staff, Management had let job satisfaction dwindle to the level of taking cash and handing out food.

Bad for staff and bad for business, when with minimal effort everyone could have felt they were building a cathedral.

Wouldn’t happen where you work, would it?

Chris Thomson, Education Consultant and former sixth form college principal.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

AELP Events added a new event yesterday

Designated Safeguarding Lead Training in FE

Overview It is a statutory requirement for professionals meeting ‘robust 2-yearly training’ for those with a lead or designated professional role...

  • Thursday, 14 October 2021 09:30 AM
  • Online

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 Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 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, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

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