Dr Paul Phillips CBE, Principal and Chief Executive, Weston College

Thursday morning, ten to nine and I have been working since about 7:30 catching up on emails and monitoring progress across the College Group. Always thought I was accessible but my newly acquired skills in digital communication have opened up new avenues.

My staff as ever in the majority of cases have gone above and beyond and as some doors close, others are opening, and life's entrepreneurs are emerging from all areas of the College. The best examples however are those that the learner, parent or employer tell me about and when I see learners from local academies wanting to join our online provision - I feel particularly enthused.

This week one of my assessors wrote to me to bring home the fact, that not only are we delivering vital training and supplying resources to help the NHS, but many staff and learners (many young apprentices) are also on the front-line delivering health and social care support that is so desperately needed.

"What are we going to do when we reopen " is the question I get asked all the time.

"We are already onto that " I respond, but we have gone back to grass roots to plan - there is an inevitability of change ahead for us and it is not a time for the faint hearted.

Blue Sky Thinking

When you strategically plan for any organisation and I have in my time run hotels, NHS research and businesses, it is always about starting with a blank sheet of paper and analysing the benchmark issues and where you need to get to. With that bit of ingredient, some blue sky thinking, wit, and damn good financial skills you can create something special.

This year for COVID19, it's very reminiscent of one of those cookery programmes where you are given a couple of ingredients and asked to concoct something special, in record time. We should not underestimate the mental health impact as we both return and readapt to a new era for Further Education.

We have one enormous advantage however this is a crisis, and FE is more than used to delivering against all odds and taking calculated risk. Why am I sure we will survive this? Well as my colleagues in FE will know, we already have to run as a business from many perspectives and we are masters of responding to change.

COVID-19 is not an excuse of why we are now in a difficult situation- it is the catalyst for change, Yes, there will be a tendency to blame it for not achieving some targets e.g. I don't think we will hit target on 16 to 19 this year simply because our NEET and Traineeship provision has been hit. Equally my Adult provision is doing very well with an expansion of distance learning.

The potential of the digital agenda

Our planning therefore uses a multi factorial set of indices including an almost pick and mix approach for learners and employers. It will be interesting to see who grabs the nettle of change, who really recognises the potential of the digital agenda et al and who slices the salami even thinner this year to maximise growth even further.

Weston College is relatively unique in its composition, so we spin a lot of plates and quite frankly it makes life very difficult from a training offer perspective, but is a good insurance if one breaks which is sadly inevitable.

I have noticed already some healthy green shoots of success in digital mind shift and a focus on minimising bureaucracy and producing succinct remote solutions for teaching and learning. I have also seen even for myself a more in depth questioning of work life balance and recognising the potential of a new digital College.

I wonder too if this more lateral thinking and determination might engender change with funding and quality regimes. When I first came to the College, attitudes and self-belief were not good within my staff and a few years later one of my team commented that I had instituted change by dragging them into a new era.

This time we are riding in, all of us on a Tsunami of change, ‘all in this together’ - old systems of approach are out of the window and we all agree there is both trepidation and excitement and of course creativity like we have not seen for some time.

Yes, there's a new breed of digital College in town, even more at the heart of their community than before and they mean business, to fight any virus that threatens our responsibility to deliver outstanding teaching and learning.

Dr Paul Phillips CBE, Principal and Chief Executive, Weston College

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 46 minutes ago

RT @FENews: NAHT demonstrates commitment to furthering equality, diversity and inclusion in schools: @NAHTnews demonstrates commitment to f…
View Original Tweet

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