Day jobs


In which I undergo unlikely adventures in the trade press

Trade journalism is, of course, the only real journalism. Any half-decent hack can go to an international summit or a brewing civil war and come back with a story. But to spend a damp Saturday afternoon trapped in a remote Welsh country club with a few dozen GPs, and come back still giving a damn about the truth? That takes real guts.

I’ve been working in the trade press since November 2004, writing about subjects including finance, public policy and the NHS. The highlights of my career have included the time a health minister literally ran away from me, despite having one leg in plaster; and the time a Treasury press officer tried to get me sacked, because he didn’t like my questions. (He failed).

Since November 2009, I’ve been editor of EducationInvestor, a monthly magazine covering political and business developments for a readership of private schools and universities, tech firms, textbook publishers, and any other business with a foot in the classroom. I run our news coverage, commission freelancers, manage the production process, and write a number of features and comment pieces each month.

In the time I’ve been editor, the subscriptions have more than tripled, and the magazine has firmly established itself as a forum in education organisations, suppliers and investors can meet. Most of the mag is behind the paywall, but to give you a flavour, here are a few of my leader columns:

  • Let’s stick together: on improving relations between public and private sectors (January 2012)
  • Mind your language: on the need to cut the waffle (September 2011)
  • Age of empires: on the coming convergence between media and education businesses (August 2011)
  • Original sin: a shortage of capital funding could doom the government’s whole schools agenda (June 2011)

As well as my editorial work, I’m responsible for working with the sales team to develop our commercial strategy, and representing the title by speaking at conferences.

I also created the EducationInvestor awards, which in 2011 attracted more than 500 senior industry figures. And in April 2011 I interviewed universities minister David Willetts before a live audience of 200.

Over the years I’ve also broken a number of major stories, including…

  • the identity of the buyer of the previously charitable College of Law;
  • Virgin’s decision to get into the healthcare game;
  • the Conservative party’s plans to scrap Labour’s school building programme, which won us a line in every Ed Balls speech for the rest of the election campaign, and got us a mention in Hansard;
  • and ministers’ attempt to get those wily GPs onto short-term contracts. (They failed, too.)