Our very own Deputy Editor Laura McInerney kicks-off the opinion piece section with what led her into journalism and the role at Schools Week
Growing up my mum only ever said I couldn’t do one job, and journalism was it.
The fateful blow was dealt when I was seven, and had just shelled out £3.99 on a “Make Your Own Newspaper” kit.
Writing newspaper copy was synonymous with drowning kittens.
After spending several nights drawing columns on paper and sending friends knocking door-to-door for stories, mum announced that while my writing talents were acceptable I wasn’t “heartless” enough to work on a newspaper.
If that seems quite harsh you have to remember it was the 80s and we lived on the outskirts of Liverpool. Writing newspaper copy was synonymous with drowning kittens.
So why, twenty-five years later, am I sitting at a Deputy Editor’s desk in the new Schools Week office?
Bluntly, I’m here because I think the education world needs a specialist paper that impartially reports and analyses the nitty-gritty of its news, week-by-week. I believe an informed profession is a better profession.
That’s why I started tweeting Education Select Committees in the middle of the night when I lived in Missouri, and it is what inspires me now about Schools Week.
That said, I wasn’t easily won over to the idea.
When Nick Linford, the editor, first suggested I apply for the Deputy Editor job I thought he was slightly mad. Even as my teaching career had given way to article-writing – for LKMCo, The Guardian, TES – I never once considered myself a journalist.
I was a teacher who also happened to write. End of.
Still, I found my writing increasingly verging on the journalistic: digging out free school documents, uncovering that the Russell Group didn’t actually prefer facilitating subjects, revealing wage differentials between Academy Trust CEOs and dinner assistants.
Those stories got me fired up, and not because I love writing but because each story gave information to readers that I truly felt ought to be ‘out there’.
Discussing Schools Week with friends I also found myself instinctively defending it.
“Don’t worry about the name!” I would say, when people inevitably asked if it was only for academies (it’s not) or a fanzine for the sector (also no).
I’d wax on about the fact while my beloved blogging community has done an amazing job of highlighting stories over the past few years, when you’re in a room on your own you don’t have the resources for fact-checking or calling people in power and asking for explanations.
Being part of a team that could do this suddenly seemed fantastically exciting.
Eventually, then, taking the job was a no-brainer. I’m at Schools Week because I want to read it, because I think intelligent detailed education stories are important, and because Nick offered me an Schools Week mug and a pen. (Okay, two pens).
I’m at Schools Week because I want to read it
One other thing mattered to me. I’ve spent several years critiquing people from behind my keyboard; it felt time for me to actually do something and put what we bring to the world up for critique.
We are endeavouring to make the paper a ‘must read’ and I hope readers will get involved: telling us what you like, (or don’t), what you want to see, (or don’t), and rigorously poke our content.
Despite her reservation, my mum has proven the saying that a mother’s love is abyss and forgiven my choices. She’s even asked for a subscription. Mind you, I say it was love. In all likelihood Nick just offered her a mug too.
Laura McInerney is now Editor of Schools Week (formerly Academies Week)