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Insight into The Times with Nicola Woolcock, Education Correspondent

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In the hot seat:

Nicola Woolcock: Education Correspondent at The Times



Nicola’s focus:

  • Nicola has been Education Correspondent for more than 10 years.
  • Her areas of interest include: school standards, universities – the debate surrounding the value of the degree, tutoring, GCSEs/A levels, T Levels, mental health, social mobility.
    • She is aware that The Times sometimes does not cover vocational subjects enough.
  • She is interested in a wide range of stories but particularly new trends that would interest middle-class parents
  • Nicola doesn’t work on Mondays
    • She and Rosemary Bennett (education editor) divide all stories up
    • Rosemary doesn’t work Fridays
  • Tuesdays are a good day for Nicola to get out of the office for a story
    • Coffee and lunches are hard for her as they take up a lot of the day


The Times:

  • By 10am, stories are pitched to the news editor of the day. These are then reviewed in the main conference with the editor (11am).
  • There are plenty of meetings / conferences during the day
    • 3:30pm is the afternoon conference
  • The Times works towards 4 online updates / editions every day
    • 9 am, 12 noon, 5pm and midnight
    • Filing for these takes place an hour before everything goes live
  • Digital meetings take place twice weekly
  • Thursday is a big day for education stories
  • The Saturday edition features stories that have a more lifestyle feel to them / reflective pieces / stories that affect parents and their children
  • The Times Education Supplement is not linked to The Times


Top Tips:

  • If pitching a news story – pitch the story the day before eg early afternoon (before 3.30pm) as Nicola’s mornings are busy (10am deadline to pitch stories to the editor) or after 11.30am
    • Don’t pitch after 3.30pm
  • Loves case studies. What the story means to the parent and child
  • Tech education pitches – need a strong education peg. Not speculative. Needs to have affected a school or the lives of children
  • Prefers email to phone calls, make sure that the top line of the news story is high up so it is clear. A day later following pitching is ok to follow up
  • Exclusives and embargoes should be pitched 24/48 hours before general release
    • If you have an exclusive it will generate more interest – do phone to let me know it’s coming
  • When pitching surveys make sure they are new and up to date
    • Sample size 500 – 1,000 minimum
    • Need to take the agenda forward or refresh / build on the research
  • Be tuned into the education diary when pitching, ie December/January is league tables month, 11+ is sat in September, A level and GCSE results are in August etc
  • International stories need a UK peg
  • Keen for lists of relevant spokespeople


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