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Education

Director of Education, Datalab
Becky Allen is director of education at Datalab, a research organisation that uses survey datasets to inform schools and the education sector. She is also an academic on leave from UCL’s Institute of Education, whose research is focused on school accountability and analysis of school admissions and the career paths of teachers. Datalab aims to create a fairer and more effective education system through its research, and it recently found that schools that most swiftly adopted the government’s English Baccalaureate saw an improvement in the results of their most disadvantaged students.
Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL
Leading neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore has conducted extensive research into the adolescent brain, exploring cognitive development at a time when students are particularly creative and open to learning. She says that teenagers should start school later in the day because of disruption to their circadian rhythms, and that if she were to make one change to schools it would be to get young people involved in designing curricula. Blakemore has given a Ted talk and appeared on television and radio, and in 2013 she won the Royal Society’s Rosalind Franklin Prize for her research.
General Secretary, Association of Teachers and Lecturers and President, Trades Union Congress
In 2016 Mary Bousted was appointed president of the TUC, the body which represents the majority of the UK’s organised workers. She takes up the role alongside her position as head of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the teaching union affiliated to the TUC. Bousted has recently expressed concerns over cuts to school funding, saying a generation of students will see their education ‘severely restricted’. Her passion for education came from her father, who was head of her primary school in Bolton. She went on to become an English teacher and joined the ATL in 2003.
Head of Assessment, ARK
Once described as Britain’s brightest student after captaining Warwick University to victory on University Challenge, Daisy Christodoulou is now head of assessment at education charity ARK. Raised in a council tower block in London, Christodoulou won a scholarship to the independent City of London Girls’ School. After Warwick she joined the Teach First scheme, where difficulties with pupils led her to read more about educational theory. She has written about education and policy for the Spectator and Times Educational Supplement, and her second book, on the future of assessment, will be released in February.
Chief Executive, Educational Endowment Foundation
As chief executive of grant-making charity the Education Endowment Foundation, Sir Kevan Collins oversees its aim to help redress the imbalance between family income and educational achievement. He has worked in public service for over 30 years, having begun his career as a primary school teacher, and previously worked as national director of the Primary Literacy Strategy and then director of children’s services at Tower Hamlets Borough Council. Most recently, the EEF has allocated £1 million in partnership with Merril Lynch to fund research into how best to prepare school students for their careers.
General Secretary, NUT
Kevin Courtney was elected as the twelfth general secretary of the National Union of Teachers in July, having served as a school representative for more than 25 years. He has pledged to work towards an education system that recognises all children’s strengths, and recently called on parents and governors to join ranks with teachers to bring government to account over funding. Welsh-born Courtney studied at Imperial and at Chelsea College of Science and Technology. He went on to teach Physics at Camden School for Girls, joining Camden NUT.
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. She has been credited with transforming it into a transparent and efficient digital enterprise that now handles more than 4 million applications every year. 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 university outreach. She recently announced that she will step down in early 2017 after seven years in the role.
Managing Director, Ark Schools
Lucy Heller is the managing director of education charity and academy operator ARK, Absolute Return for Kids, which runs 35 non-selective schools and aims to nurture the academic potential and life opportunities of as many children as possible. In 2016, its Blacklands school in Hastings – which was in special measures prior to joining the network two years ago – was rated Outstanding by Ofsted. Prior to joining ARK in 2004, Heller was managing director at TSL Education, and has previously worked at the Observer and Verso.
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. He 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. Hobby recently warned that parents would soon start to see the results of a shortfall in education funding through staff cuts, larger classes and fewer subjects on offer.
Chairman, Sutton Trust and Education Endowment Foundation
Leading educational philanthropist Sir Peter Lampl is founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust, a charity which aims to improve social mobility by commissioning research and funding programmes. Lampl set up his own private equity firm in New York, and on returning to the UK was shocked by the deterioration of opportunities for children from low-income families. He created the Oxford Summer School and then the Sutton Trust in 1997, and has now dedicated 20 years and £50 million of his personal fortune to improving education and social mobility in the UK. Lampl also chairs the Education Endowment Foundation.
Executive Chairman, Education Policy Institute
Former schools minister David Laws is now executive chairman of EPI, a think tank that focuses on research and analysis to address educational inequality. MP for Yeovil until 2015, Laws was also chief secretary to the Treasury for 17 days until concerns over his expenses forced him to resign. He graduated from King’s College Cambridge with a double first in Economics, and went on to work at J.P Morgan and Barclays de Zoete Wedd before trading the City for politics. A recent study by the EPI revealed that grammar schools are not an effective route to social mobility.
Founder and CEO, Explore Learning
Bill Mills is CEO and founder of Explore Learning, a network of 120 maths and English tuition centres, since 2014. The centres, which work with four- to 14-year-olds, are located in easy to reach places such as supermarkets and shopping centres, and open seven days a week. He studied at Winchester and Cambridge and set up Explore Learning in 2000.
CEO, Harris Federation
Sir Dan Moynihan has been chief executive at the Harris Federation for ten years, leading the organisation founded by Lord Harris of Peckham which now oversees 41 primary and secondary academies in London. None of the Harris academies has ever received less than a Good rating from Ofsted, and three quarters are rated Outstanding. Moynihan was previously head of Valentines High School in Ilford for five years, before moving to the Harris City Technology College, which he converted into an academy in 2007.
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools and Director, Future Academies
Ten years ago schools minister Lord Nash set up Future, a charity which sponsors academies in order to help transform the life chances of young people through education. The trust has been responsible for transforming a number of struggling schools, including Pimlico Academy, which in 2010 achieved an Outstanding rating from Ofsted. A qualified barrister, Lord Nash worked in venture capital for thirty years before leaving the finance sector in 2013 to pursue a career in politics and education.
Chief Executive, Chartered College of Teaching
Writer and educator Dame Alison Peacock is chief executive of the Chartered College of Teaching, the new independent professional body for teachers. She stepped down as executive headteacher at Wroxham School to take up the role, and was responsible for leading the Hertfordshire school out of special measures to an Outstanding rating from Ofsted. In 2016, she also became a visiting professor at the University of Hertfordshire and released her second book, Assessment for Learning Without Limits. She is a trustee of Teach First and a member of the Royal Education Committee and the Future Leaders Advisory Group.
Vice-Chancellor, University of Oxford
Louise Richardson became vice-chancellor at Oxford in 2016, becoming the first woman to hold the position at the oldest university in the English-speaking world. She had previously been vice-chancellor at St Andrews for six years, during which time she worked to improve the fairness of its admissions process. Oxford spends £18 million each year recruiting students from poorer backgrounds, and now has more state-educated students than ever before. An expert on global terrorism, Richards has described education as the ‘antidote to extremism’. She previously lived and worked in the USA were she was an executive dean at Harvard University.
Director, Directorate for Education and Skills, OECD
German-born statistician Andreas Schleicher is responsible for helping nations to develop their education and skills as division head at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. He is also a pioneer and advocate of the influential PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) system of testing, and a champion of the use of data to improve education. Once described by Michael Gove as ‘the most important man in the British education system’, Schleicher achieved the highest mark possible at his school in Hamburg, and went on to study in Germany and then Australia.
Chief Inspector, Ofsted
Amanda Spielman succeeded Sir Michael Wilshaw as chief inspector at Ofsted in 2016 despite an initial attempt to block her appointment by a House of Commons education committee concerned about her lack of teaching experience. Spielman was a co-founder of ARK with Lucy Heller in 2005, and has been chair of exams regulator Ofqual since 2011. She has also worked in both accounting and corporate finance and is now tasked with delivering the government’s mission to improve the quality and consistency of school inspections in the UK.
Interim General Secretary, Association of School and College Leaders
Malcolm Trobe has worked for the ASCL since 2008, and is currently its interim general secretary, representing and advising more than 18,000 school and college heads and working to shape education policy. An experienced chief examiner, Trobe was previously head teacher of Malmesbury School in Wiltshire for 17 years. He has recently warned that some schools will see their finances ‘fall off a cliff edge’ in the wake of cuts to funding.
Founder and Chief Executive, Teach First
Brett Wigdortz is the man behind the hugely successful education programme Teach First. Now the largest graduate recruiter, he wrote the original business plan for the charity while working for McKinsey & Company, and took a six month leave of absence to develop his idea before founding it in 2002. Originally from New Jersey, he has a degree in Economics from the University of Richmond and a Master’s from the University of Hawaii. He has called on the government to focus on inequality in education rather than on opening new grammar schools.
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