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28th January 2020

University Don was inspired by local FE College

A Twitter historian and  university Don says his achievements are all down to his start in further education.

Professor Frank McDonough has nothing but praise for his time at the Liverpool further education college (now The City of Liverpool College) that put him on course to success in education at the UK’s top red brick university.

The Everton-born scholar dropped out of education aged 15 to start work as a shipping clerk. After redundancy came at 25, he decided to return to learning and complete O-levels (GCSEs in old money) followed by A-levels at The City of Liverpool College. His straight A grades won him a scholarship to read History at the prestigious Oxford University.

Frank said: “The FE College was fantastic; it made me, and is such a fantastic feature of the education system. There they understood the older students coming back into education. I had a teacher called Jim Rand who was really funny – sounded a bit like Ken Dodd – and had this fantastic enthusiasm that I bought right into.”

Frank graduated with a first class honours degree that led on to a PHD at Liverpool John Moores University, where he’s now worked for the last thirty years.  As Professor of International History he’s proud to be the only Scouser on the team, and a role model for his students, most of whom are from the local area.

“What I enjoy most is taking people from the local community as well as some who failed first time around and making them enthusiastic to learn. You hear them say: ‘Look, he’s done well, he’s from Liverpool.’  You can succeed if you’re from Liverpool. I’ve stayed authentic, I haven’t compromised my personality and I’m a high achiever,” he says.

He hopes his story can be repeated today but says that more needs to be done to encourage mature students to progress from FE into HE.

He’s a published author specialising in Hitler’s Third Reich and counts several popular books amongst his credits, many of which have been translated into seventeen different languages.  He’s also a TV historian and has presented more than 80 documentaries that have been filmed all over the world.

The self-confessed history geek has also built up a cult following on Twitter (42,383) with his daily tweets on THIS DAY IN HISTORY at 7.30AM (GMT). These highlight outstanding events of the day, and are full of images to conjure up memories for loyal followers young and old.

Frank concluded: “When I look back on my life, I never thought it would turn out this way – and it’s all because of further education. If I hadn’t gone through FE, what would my life have been? It may have been just as nice, but not the life of achievement I’ve had. Going to [The City of Liverpool] College was a transforming experience that changed my life completely.”

Passages courtesy of TES


Follow Frank McDonough @FXMC1957 

Read Kate Parker’s (TES) full story at:


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