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The FE sector can be a fickle mistress. It is an industry that addresses a particular part of the economy. It is largely unknown to the public and, like most sectors, has a tendency to get caught with its inside baseball. There is a lingo to the sector that can make it a bit difficult for outsiders looking in to relate to.

On top of that, so much of the industry is dominated by large organisations, like City & Guilds and Pearson. There’s a lot of ‘literature’ out there that simply ends up being promotional material. Sometimes it’s hard to wade through all the clutter to the good stuff, the stuff that will give you an honest lay of the land, or at least interesting and useful.

Social media seems to be the go-to news source for the sector. It’s a great way to access loads of content and keep up to date with the latest news and events. But there’s a lot of social media feeds out there, and it can be harder to know which ones to follow than removing drywall with a wet toothbrush.

So, we thought we’d put together 10 FE Influencers You Need to Follow on Twitter.

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Nick Linford 

Nick is an industry staple. As the Editor of FE Week, he has to be on top of all the latest developments in the FE sector, from major government announcements to Ofsted and Ofqual rating releases to the backdoor dynamics of the ministries and colleges. If there’s something going on, you can bet he knows about it.

FE Week is also, perhaps, the best funded, in-depth and detailed industry publication for the FE sector. Sometimes the material can be a bit specialised, but it’s generally considered the industry bible, and the reporting is top-notch.

What makes Linford’s Twitter profile so worth following, on top of his insight into the sector, is his often acerbic tweets about the actions of those in power. He’s not afraid to challenge, as all journalists should.

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The Apprenticeship Guru

From Linford’s account , we go to The Apprenticeship Guru, the online persona of the marketing team at the Babington Group, one of the UK’s largest training providers.

The account is dedicated to promoting anything and everything apprenticeships and traineeships, from particular apprenticeship vacancies to the benefits of apprenticeships to the wider UK economy, with links to interesting articles and insightful infographics.

The Guru is usually an excellent resource for apprenticeship info, delivered in a charming, humorous and engaging way. 

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Ann Gravells

Ann has been a partner of TQUK from the beginning. She’s been an invaluable resource of knowledge in the FE and skills sector for many organisations. She’s written extensively on many aspects of further education, including writing textbooks on internal quality assurance practices, continuing professional development and teaching principles.

Her Twitter profile is a great resource for all sorts of topics. Even one visit to her profile will leave you gorging on an array of fascinating and useful resources you may never have thought of investigating, from vocational training best practices to qualification study guides. 

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Stephen Evans

Stephen Evans has been around. He used to work for the Treasury, the Social Market Foundation and the Mayor of London. He is now the Chief Executive of the Learning and Work Institute, an independent policy and research organisation dedicated to lifelong learning, full employment and inclusion.

As the Chief Executive, Evans has to know and investigate all things relating to skills and training so that his organisation can analyze and come up with solutions to problems facing employers and employees. The organisation continually provides great material for the FE sector and Evans’s commentary on his feed is incisive and informative.

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Mark Dawe, AELP

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers represents 800+ training providers that deliver skills, apprenticeships and employment. The AELP’s role is to lobby the government to protect the interests of training providers and to ensure the development of policies that deliver high quality, learner-centered skills and employability services. The AELP is always a great resource for material for anyone wanting to find out more about the further education sector. Their Twitter account is definitely one to follow.

And while he does not have much of a social media presence, AELP CEO Mark Dawe is a regular authority on all things happening in further education. He is knowledgeable with a deep experience of the sector. And unlike most uber-serious bosses in FE, he has a side gig as a professional dancer. (March on, you intrepid Mark.)

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Anne Milton

Because obviously. The Minister HAD to be on here. There’s probably no one on this list with more influence on the direction of apprenticeships and skills sector than Milton. The minister has complete control over much of government funding and how it is allocated, so her word can affect the entire sector at the drop of a hat.

Her social media profile isn’t exactly the most personal or interesting – very few MP accounts are. But the feed is often a great source of news and updates about what’s going on in the ministry. Even just entering her name into the search engine will connect you with a multitude of relevent content.

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Stephen Exley

If FE Week is the industry bible, The Times Education Supplement is the paper that can appeal to a wider audience. The supplement covers further education, schools and higher education, and the FE section is often filled with excellent news stories, editorials and exposés.

Exley is the editor of the further education section. His Twitter feed is populated by many excellent stories. While there is perhaps too much material that conforms with the TES FE Twitter page, the feed is an great source of news and stories that offers a refreshing and accessible counterbalance to FE Week.

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Sean Williams

Sean Williams is the CEO of Corndel, an organisation designed to help employers optimise the Apprenticeship Levy to develop their workforces. The Apprenticeship Levy can be a bit daunting for employers to navigate, but once the benefits of it are fully realised, Corndel says, its value could be immense when used correctly.

Williams’s Twitter feed is usually a source some more obscure but incredibly well-presented and thought-provoking material. It’s stuff you rarely get anywhere else, and he offers a very refreshing perspective on the Levy, the coverage of which tends to be fairly negative.

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Vicky Duckworth

Vicky Duckworth’s feed is one of the more uplifting on this list. She is a trustee for Transforming Lives, a project dedicated to showing how further education can transform an individual’s life and providing evidence for how such education actively contributes to growing the economy in 21st century Britain. Underpinning the project is their website, which provides a platform for many individuals – learners, teachers, etc – to tell their stories of how their education has helped turned their lives around.

It is inspiring to see all the stories posted on this site. It gives a real sense of how this sector plays a role in transforming people’s lives for the better.

Duckworth’s feed is often filled with great snippets of the project’s findings and constant reminders of the sector’s importance to the UK.

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Mick Fletcher

Another policy guy on this list, but a cool one. Mick Fletcher is Director of RCU, an organisation providing national research and consultancy services. He is also a member of the Policy Consortium.

Fletcher’s Twitter feed is filled with avuncular and matter-of-fact reactions to the latest news in the FE sector. Promotional initiatives advanced by the government or other larger organisations are often met with concise splashes of cold water. Fletcher’s feed is a great place to go to find a clear-eyed view of the landscape unaffected the sector’s blinders.

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Did we miss out on your favourite profiles to follow? Which ones do you follow? Tweet us your best FE feed.

To keep up to date with the latest news and to follow our incisive commentary on the FE sector, return to our blog, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

See you out here!