Chair, Future Leaders Trust
Sally Morgan has a distinguished background in education as a former chair of Ofsted and founding trustee of Ark Schools, for which she now acts as adviser. She is the current chair of the Future Leaders Trust, which was set up in 2006 by Ark together with the National College for Teaching and Leadership and the Schools Network. The trust delivers the Future Leaders programme, a fast-track development programme based on the principle that good schools depend on good leaders, to help current and former teachers become headteachers in challenging schools within four years. Sally Morgan has been a member of the House of Lords since 2001 and recently chaired the Lords Select Committee on Digital Skills.
Founder and CEO, Teach First
Brett Wigdortz founded Teach First in 2002 with the aim to address educational inequality by placing high-flying graduates in schools, providing them with two years of teacher training 'on the job'. Participants obtain Qualified Teacher Status after those two years, becoming Teach First ambassadors with the option to remain in education or address educational disadvantage elsewhere. Teach First is now the largest graduate recruiter in the country and has been named second in the Times's Top 100 Graduate Recruiters for the last two years. Wigdortz, born in New Jersey, was working in London for management consultancy McKinsey & Company when he devised the original business plan for the charity. In 2013, he was awarded an OBE for his services to education.
General Secretary, National Union of Teachers
Christine Blower has been general secretary of the National Union of Teachers since 2009, leading the 300,000 member-strong body that campaigns on educational issues, conditions and funding on behalf of qualified teachers in England and Wales. Blower grew up in Surrey and trained as a teacher. In 1990 she began working with at-risk teenagers before becoming a member of the Behavioural Support Team in Hammersmith and Fulham. Having joined the NUT at the start of her career, she held various posts in its West London branch, and was elected to the national executive between 1992 and 2000, becoming national president. The first woman general secretary at the NUT, Blower has spoken out in opposition of Free Schools and SATs, and led five national strikes during her tenure. She recently announced her intention to step down from her post in May 2016 after nine years in charge.
Director, United Learning's Southern Academies
Sally Coates took up her current role at United Learning, England's largest chain of academies, in 2014 and oversees the performance of 15 of its academies and free schools in the south. She is perhaps best known, however, for transforming Burlington Danes Academy, a London comprehensive described as 'feral' and recognised as the city's worst, into a thriving school judged Outstanding by Ofsted. Coates is in favour of rigorous testing and credits a controversial 'rank ordering' system, in which students in a year group are ranked against each other, with helping restore discipline at Burlington Danes. She regularly speaks at educational conferences and her book Headstrong: 11 Lessons of School Leadership was published in 2015.
CEO, Ark Schools
Lucy Heller is CEO of education charity and academy operator ARK (Absolute Return for Kids), which runs 34 non-selective schools in the UK and works to improve education globally, with its first overseas school recently opened in Delhi. ARK aims to nurture the academic potential and life opportunities of as many children as possible and its teaching frameworks and systems have been rolled out to classrooms throughout the UK. Heller joined ARK in 2004 from her position as managing director at TSL Education, and she was appointed CEO in 2012. She had previously worked at the Observer and for trade and academic publisher Verso.
Chief Executive, UCAS
Since 2010 Mary Curnock Cook has led the organisation that processes applications to higher education courses, the University and College Admission Service – or UCAS. A latecomer to further education herself, Curnock Cook left school at 16 and began work as a secretary at International Biochemicals. She left the company as international sales and marketing director and in 2001 graduated from London Business School with an MSc in General Management. She was previously director of qualifications and skills at QCDA and chief executive of BII. With women now 35% more likely to attend university than men, Curnock Cook has called for 'poor white males' to be the new focus for outreach. She sits on the board of The Access Project, which aims to support students from less privileged backgrounds in progressing to university.
Mental Health Champion and Founder, Self Esteem Team
Natasha Devon is the UK government's first 'mental health champion', working alongside an all-party parliamentary group on body image, and specifically reporting on issues faced by 14-18-year-olds. Her role was created in response to the growing number of school children suffering from problems related to mental health, of which Devon herself has experience: she recovered from an eating disorder in 2006. Devon's Self-Esteem Team provides workshops, presentations and training for students, parents and teachers on issues such as self-harm, eating disorders and exam stress. She writes regularly for a number of publications including the Telegraph, the Independent and the Sun, and is a columnist for Cosmopolitan. She also appears as a body image expert on a number of television programmes and has co-authored a book, Fundamentals: A Guide for Parents & Teachers on Mental Health & Self-Esteem.
Director, Office for Fair Access
Professor Les Ebdon is director of the independent Office for Fair Access, which promotes the accessibility of education to under-represented groups, particularly those from low-income backgrounds. Ebdon was appointed to the post in 2012, the same year that the government announced that universities could demand tuition fees of up to £9000, and the function of the OFFA became even more relevant. Prior to the OFFA Ebdon was vice-chancellor at the University of Bedfordshire, and he began his career as a chemistry lecturer. He says of higher education, 'I was fortunate to be inspired by many great teachers, who persuaded me that a lad like me, from a corporation estate, could aspire and achieve, and helped me develop me love of practical chemistry. Higher education gave me so much...and that's why I've dedicated my later career to putting something back into higher education for others.'
Vice-Chancellor, University of Oxford
Former vice-chancellor at St Andrews University Louise Richardson took up her new post at Oxford in January 2016, becoming the first woman to hold the position at the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Richardson led St Andrews for six years, during which time she worked to improve the fairness of its admissions, saying 'My parents did not go to college, most of my siblings did not go to college. The trajectory of my life has been made possible by education. So I am utterly committed to others having the same opportunity I have had.' Richardson previously lived and worked in the USA were she was an executive dean at Harvard University. She is also an expert on terrorism and security studies and advises policy-makers internationally. Born in the Republic of Ireland, Richardson studied at Trinity College Dublin, the University of California, and at Harvard.
Education Consultant and Professor of Professional Learning, UCL Institute of Education
Education expert Louise Stoll began her career as a primary teacher in London and has been working with school leaders in the UK, Canada and internationally for over 25 years. Stoll was a co-director of the highly influential Effective Professional Learning Communities (EPLC) project, which advocated continuous improvement in staff performance and student learning in schools and was described as 'the most powerful professional development and change strategy available'. Her more recent work focuses on capacity for learning in children, teachers and leaders. Stoll is currently a part-time professor at the UCL Institute of Education. She also works as a freelance researcher and consultant, and is the co-author of It's About Learning (and It's About Time) and a number of other publications and papers.
Founder and CEO, Achievement for All 3As
Educational charity Achievement for All 3As aims to transform the lives of disadvantaged young people by raising aspirations, access and achievement – the three 'As'. Its founder and CEO Sonia Blandford has first-hand experience of the obstacles facing many young people today: having grown up on a council estate in Hounslow with a mother who was unable to read or write, she recognised the transforming power of education early on. She began her career teaching music before working her way through senior and leadership positions in numerous schools, and was pro-vice chancellor and dean at Canterbury Christ Church University. Blandford founded Achievement for All 3As in 2011 and it now works with schools, early years settings and further education colleges introducing programmes to improve the chances and experiences of children and to address the hurdles of the education system.
General Secretary, NAHT
Russell Hobby has been general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers since 2010, leading the trade union and professional association that represents heads, deputy heads and other college leaders in the UK. Hobby graduated from Oxford with a first in PPE and got into education via management consultancy by working on a Department for Education project at Hay Group. He went on to found the group's education practice, working with hundreds of school headteachers as well as government agencies. Hobby is a dedicated advocate of strong leadership in education, citing his own head teacher as an early influence, whose actions had 'profound consequences' for his family. A recent survey by the NAHT has highlighted the difficulties facing heads in recruiting new teachers because of a shortage of applicants.
CEO, Challenge Partners
Former head teacher Sir George Berwick is CEO at Challenge Partners, the organisation that aims to improve pupil outcomes by encouraging collaboration and the sharing of knowledge and resources between schools local to each other. Berwick was head at Ravens Wood school in Bromley for 18 years until 2011, during which time it was one of only a few secondaries to be rated Outstanding by Ofsted on five consecutive occasions. His influential report to government Teaching schools: first among equals?, co-authored with Peter Matthews, advocates the importance of determining and implementing best practice frameworks within schools, and as a result there are now over 600 designated 'Teaching Schools' in the UK.
Education Expert and Professor Emeritus of Education, University of Warwick
Sir Ken Robinson is a highly influential education expert and advocate of creativity in education whose 2006 TED speech 'Do schools kill creativity?' caused global debate and has garnered over 36 million views to date. He works with governments, education systems and businesses worldwide to develop creativity, innovation and human resources, and led a government commission, All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education. His blueprint Unlocking Creativity, developed as part of the Northern Ireland Peace Process, was adopted by politicians of all parties and by business, education and cultural leaders. Robinson was also one of four international advisors to the Singapore Government on its strategy to become the creative hub of South East Asia. Born in Liverpool, he was professor of education at the University of Warwick for 12 years and is now professor emeritus.
Chief Executive, Educational Endowment Foundation
As chief executive of grant-making charity Education Endowment Foundation, Sir Kevan Collins oversees its aim to redress the imbalance between family income and educational achievement by identifying and funding innovations that benefit disadvantaged schoolchildren. He has worked in public service and education for over 25 years, having begun his career as a primary school teacher before going on to lead the Primary Literacy Strategy as national director. He subsequently served as director of children's services at Tower Hamlets Borough Council, and has worked internationally implementing educational initiatives. He was knighted in 2015 for his services to education.
Chief Inspector of Schools in England and Head of Ofsted
Sir Michael Wilshaw was appointed chief inspector of education, children's services and skills in 2012, becoming head of the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), the organisation responsible for regulating and carrying out inspections of services caring for children and young people. Sir Michael spent 43 years as a teacher in London schools, latterly as the first head of one of the first academies, Hackney's Mossbourne Community Academy. A traditionalist and proponent of discipline in education, Sir Michael believes mobile phones should be banned in schools and that Ofsted inspectors should evaluate culture and strength of leadership as well as teaching and facilities.
Chairman, Sutton Trust
In 1997 leading educational philanthropist Sir Peter Lampl founded the Sutton Trust, a 'do tank' that aims to improve social mobility by funding programmes to address educational inequality. The son of a Viennese émigré, Lampl was educated at grammar schools in Reigate and Cheltenham and gained a place at Oxford. After an MBA at London Business School, he worked for Boston Consulting Group in the US before founding his own private equity firm, The Sutton Company. Through the firm, he acquired a number of companies both in Europe and the United States and became one of the 200 wealthiest people in the UK. Returning to the UK after 20 years, Sir Peter claims he was shocked by the deterioration in opportunities for children from low-income backgrounds. He set up the Oxford Summer School, giving 17-year-olds the opportunity to spend a week experiencing life at an Oxford college and getting to know existing students, a scheme which was subsequently rolled out to ten other universities. The Sutton Trust has now funded over 200 programmes supporting tens of thousands of young people. Sir Peter has now devoted 19 years and £50 million of his personal fortune to improving education in the UK. He is also chairman of the Education Endowment Fund, which was set up in 2011 by the Sutton Trust with support from Impetus Trust. It was funded by an endowment of £135 million from the government, to improve the performance of the poorest children in the worst performing schools. Sir Peter has a number of honorary doctorates and fellowships and was awarded an OBE in 1999 and a knighthood in 2003.
Sponsor and Chairman, Harris Foundation
Though he made his fortune in carpets, first as chairman and chief executive of Harris Carpets, the company founded by his late father, and later as chairman of Carpetright, Lord Harris is now known primarily for his contribution to education in the UK. He established the not-for-profit Harris Federation so that London children might have a better education than he did, after he was forced to leave school at 15 upon the sudden death of his father. The federation has since grown to include 37 primary and secondary academies, 40% of which have been rated outstanding by Ofsted (compared with 20% nationally). Michael Gove cited Harris as his 'hero' when he was education secretary, saying 'Harris changed everything about these schools – except the intake'.
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools and Director, Future Academies
As parliamentary under-secretary of state for schools Lord Nash is responsible for the Education Funding Agency, the Department of Education Review, school organisation and governance, academies, faith schools, school places and dealing with extremism in schools. He qualified as a barrister but worked predominantly in finance, setting up his own private equity firm Sovereign Capital before leaving in 2013 to pursue his political interests. In 2006 he and his wife Caroline founded Future, which sponsors academies and works with other small charities to transform the life chances of young people through education. In 2008 Future sponsored the transformation of the struggling Pimlico School into Pimlico Academy, which by 2010 had achieved an outstanding rating from Ofsted. Future Academies, a multi-academy trust of which Pimlico Academy is the flagship secondary, now sponsors three other schools in Westminster, and has a teacher training college, the Pimlico-London SCITT.
Education Secretary
Former solicitor Nicky Morgan took over from Michael Gove as education secretary in 2014. A one-time treasurer of the Oxford Union, Morgan joined the Conservative party at the age of 17 and has built up an impressively broad political CV, with stints at the Treasury and the Whip's Office and as minister for women and equalities. In autumn 2015 she announced the opening of the first new grammar school in half a century, and has recently launched new website to protect children from radicalisation. Morgan has expressed ambitions to run for leader if David Cameron decides to step down before the next election.
All the latest news, discussions, events and offers from Debrett’s and receive £10 off your first purchase