Subscriber briefing – Ed Dorrell, Head of Content at the Tes

Find out what’s new at the Tes, how and when to pitch and what really matters to Ed Dorrell in this exclusive briefing for our newsletter subscribers.

We recently interviewed Ed Dorrell at an exclusive breakfast event co-hosted with Roxhill Media (who provide us with our very useful media database). Ed has been at the Tes for 12 years following an early career in local papers and the business-to business-press, (not to mention a particularly exciting stint at Heating and Ventilating News).

In this briefing, Ed tells us everything we need to know when pitching an article, from the most popular themes, to how and when to reach him. So read on to get the inside track on journalist Ed Dorrell, Head of Content at the Tes.

Tes publications and podcasts

The Tes prints two weekly magazines – Tes and Tes Scotland. In response to the significant growth in English speaking international schools, they have recently launched Tes International. This new biannual publication is aimed at both school and group leaders and individual teachers and Ed is the commissioner.

Tes also produces a range of podcasts, which, as Ed explained, have become incredibly popular. The newest podcast, which launched in January this year, is the Tes Technology podcast. It joins a range of podcasts covering news, pedagogy (Tes Podagogy), maths, English, FE, behaviour and more.

Virtually all news is now handled online and about two-thirds of all Tes editorial is digital. The magazine focuses much more on what works in schools, on innovation and system leadership, rather than politics and what’s happening in Whitehall. 

Timing and planning

  • 10 am – daily news conference (conducted over Slack) 
  • 3 pm – conference for the next day, and for stories being published on Facebook (a really important channel for Tes)
  • Press day for the weekly magazines is Tuesday

 Stories and pitching

  • Avoid pitching to Ed at 10 am or 3 pm. 
  • Although Ed is happy to receive calls, it is best to email first. It also means he has the information in front of him when you phone to follow up!
  • Offering an exclusive on news stories is always of interest. Ed recommends that you call a couple of days before the story is to go live.
  • Jon Severs commissions the main Tes magazine and lead times are longer for this,  with main features being planned 6-8 weeks ahead of publication.
  • Ed tends not to meet with PRs (unless they have a very good story)

Contact email: 

Popular themes

Stories which are particularly popular with readers include:

  • Impact of mental health on learners and the interplay with CAMHS
  • Teacher workload, stress and mental health
  • The new Ofsted framework (and Ofsted in general) and the curriculum
  • Curriculum reform
  • Articles about learners (including the latest classroom fad)
  • Headteacher horror stories

Ed is keenly interested in new data and relevant research, case studies, and in finding out how schools work. Broader themes around extra-curricular activities, and even more philosophical angles about aspects of education and learning are also of interest. Another interest is technology, and he receives many pitches about edtech, but it represents only a third of one reporter’s patch. 

The majority of stories for Tes (outside news) are written by researchers, academics, school leaders and teachers, and edited by journalists. The Tes has around 20 writers producing articles regularly, only two of these feature in columns in the magazine. They tend to select these writers when they ‘pop up’ on social media, for example, saying something controversial. Tes will then ask them to write a one-off piece and, if that goes well, they come on board as a regular writer.

Getting out and about

Ed visits about two schools a month and regularly speaks at conferences and chairs panels. He finds visiting schools helps him to build links with new teachers and spot new trends and issues. The rest of the editorial team also visit schools regularly. 

We hope that you have found this article insightful. A huge thanks to Ed Dorrell for taking the time to share these tips with us. For more tips and advice on how to contact journalists in the education sector, read our article ‘Education PR: what journalists really want‘.