Darren Hankey, Principal of Hartlepool College of Further Education, explains why he believes the strengths of being a dual professional are so often overlooked when it comes to looking at the inspirational work done by colleges in the Further Education and Training sector:

Colleges are an essential part of England’s education system, educating and training 2.2 million people every year, but I feel there is still a real lack of awareness when it comes to working in the world of Further Education (FE) and how colleges help people make the most of their talents.

The beauty of being a practitioner in a FE college, and what makes it special in my eyes, is that you get the opportunity to be a dual professional. You could have started out your career by honing your skills as a bricklayer, plasterer, engineer or accountant, but this is a way of keeping that profession alive; many of our lecturers do just that, but they also develop their identity as a teacher as well.

At Hartlepool College our biggest curriculum area is engineering, and that is a big selling point for us in terms of classroom-based education for young people and adults.

Another is our apprenticeship provision, which was judged as outstanding by Ofsted in 2017. For a relatively small college, we try to back up our average, with 25 per cent of Engineering apprentices in the North East of England trained through us.

Driving forward teaching, learning and assessment

My career in FE started in 1995 when I completed a teacher trainer course at the University of Greenwich, before moving up the ranks as a middle manager, joining a senior team, and eventually becoming Principal in 2013.

Whilst these days I don’t do as much teaching as I’d like to, I’m still very much involved and play a key role in setting the environment and driving forward our teaching, learning and assessment practice.

I don’t believe there is a magical solution to a problem where if you do this ‘one thing’, your organisation will be fine, but what I do believe is that as a head of an education establishment, if you get your teaching, learning and assessment right, other things will fall into place; students will enjoy the experience, you will retain them, they will achieve, and you will get a reputation for providing a good education service.

Continuing professional development

Continuing professional development (CPD) takes place throughout the year and we dedicate three days of the February half term specifically to it.

Although CPD is very much an individual ‘thing’, it is an essential part of our responsibility to help our teachers develop and improve their knowledge and practice in the classroom. Ultimately, it is about making them more employable and demonstrating to others that they are taking teaching seriously.

Over the last few years we have developed a team of advanced practitioners who help share good practice that takes place around the college. We are also very much on the research agenda and do lots of reading about what is effective in terms of teaching, learning and assessment practice.

Providing an environment for learners to flourish

I think we do wonderful work in colleges up and down the country, and even though you could say we have one arm behind our back when it comes to funding pressures, we are proud that we do especially well in terms of getting apprentices on board.

We find that most of our learners who come to Hartlepool College are here because they want to be; they want to learn a specific subject area in more detail, so by and large they are motivated to be here, and we try to provide an environment where they can flourish.

For us it’s about making sure learners are getting the knowledge and skills to either progress to university or on to the world of work.

We see Further Education as a direct investment into the economy, rather than a cost, and as teachers and leaders, it would be great to do even more with right and fair levels of funding.

Darren Hankey, Principal of Hartlepool College of Further Education

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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.

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