Alice Woolley

Alice Woolley has worked in national newspaper features for more than 20 years and is currently editor of Education Guardian. 

Alice has had a varied career, from being a writer on a medical newspaper (Doctor and Hospital Doctor) to being deputy editor of the Express Saturday magazine in the late 90s, where she was also a celebrity interviewer. She also spent many years as chief features sub-editor at theIndependent and became a features commissioning editor there. She has been at theGuardian for 10 years.

After a degree in Linguistics from Reading University, Alice started out in journalism at theDorking Advertiser, part of Surrey and South London Newspapers, as an indentured trainee reporter. "I always wanted to work in newspapers, but I failed to get a place on the Thompson graduate scheme. But I lucked out. I had done some work experience at the Reading Evening Post and the Oxford Mail while I was at university, and I got my first job introduction thanks to a recommendation from one of the reporters (thank you, Brendan Bourne), and I started work as a trainee reporter 2 days after graduating". 

The training combined working on a weekly paper and doing the NCTJ block release course at Highbury College, Cosham, Portsmouth.  'It was really the ideal start in journalism. Working on a local newspaper was the best experience and the most fun ever. I was with a great team of reporters, including Marc Piercey and Sheila Cook, who both went on to the BBC. My editor, Dick Townsend-Smith, was a terrific journalist and mentor. In a place like Dorking, there aren't too many major breaking stories, so I learned the value of becoming a trusted member of your community to hunt out news from within. This has been of enduring value to me in all different fields, and I'd include celebrity interviewing and medical journalism in that as well as in my current posting, in the world of education."

"I had a really great time on the block release course, meeting reporters from bigger newspapers and hearing how other newsrooms worked. That was also where I got a good grounding in essential law for journalists, the basics of which I remember and still use in my work today. The Teeline shorthand was also extremely valuable, but after quite a few years of not using it, my 100 words per minute is probably more like 10 words a minute now! A refresher course would be good! But I think the most significant thing on the block release was the opportunity to start writing features as well as news. This was when I started to see that as probably the right direction for me. Later on, I learned more about features at the Independent, especially working for David Robson, but still I think I've used the lessons of my NCTJ course every day in my work, in every job I've had."