Projects & Services
I work with a wide range of organisations on both regular and one-off projects that help them to:
understand what's happening in education, and the implications for their work;
make strategic decisions based on a clearer picture of developments and trends in education, training and employment;
uncover information and make connections they might otherwise have missed;
keep up to date and well-informed in a complex and rapidly changing field.
Evaluation and qualitative research
London Adult & Community Learning Review
In parallel with the London Post-16 Area Review, London Government conducted a review of Adult Community Learning (ACL), supported by the Department for Education (DfE). Contracted by Holex - the lead body for ACL - I was one of a team of four who, between us, interviewed the heads of every service in London. Our aim was to provide a comprehensive picture of adult education in the capital and develop options for its future organisation and strategic direction.
Excellence in further education governance
I was part of a small team that carried out research into governance in FE providers for the Education & Training Foundation. In the first stage we mapped out the landscape of organisations and groups that are involved in shaping governance policy in England; we then consulted with partners and other organisations to draft, test and refine a short set of research questions and to agree research methodologies. In stage two we undertook telephone interviews with principals, board members and clerks from colleges and independent training providers. I then analysed all the interviews and drafted the final report, along with a number of detailed annexes.
Independent research projects and employability skills
I was commissioned by the British Science Association to evaluate whether undertaking CREST Awards - independent research projects in science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) - helped young people develop employability skills. To do this, I created a 'pedagogical framework' against which I assessed the structure of the Awards and the way they were run on the ground. I interviewed CREST managers and STEM teachers and ran focus groups with students. Overall, I concluded that the projects do support employability skills, but more could be done to strengthen that aspect. Read the report here.
An evaluation of practical and vocational learning
I worked with an associate to evaluate the role of the Studio Schools Trust in raising the status of practical and vocational learning (PVL). Following a period of fact-finding and desk research, we undertook a number of semi-structured interviews with Studio School staff and stakeholders and ran focus groups with students from the schools. The final report can be read here.
Contracted desk research
I have a regular contract as an Associate Researcher for a major education consultancy. We work with national organisations and blue chip companies that are either active in or want to engage with the education system. I have recently undertaken research into: the education system in Japan; education programmes run by Premiership football clubs; the future of vocational qualifications; governance in academy schools; and a new approach to school leaver recruitment.
Options for vocational education in an academy school
I was asked to write an options report for the governors of an academy wanting to increase vocational provision for its students. I undertook desk research into vocational provision available in the area, the local labour market and the wider policy context. I also covered latest thinking around future skills needs and approaches for increasing both educational attainment and employability. I carried out telephone interviews with school staff, governors and representatives from the Local Enterprise Partnership and the Chamber of Commerce. The final report summarised my research and offered two options for consideration by the governors.
Strategy and policy development
Designing and building a professional body
For four years I worked regularly as part of a team establishing a new professional body for education business practitioners. I wrote options papers and presentations for the Board, drafted objectives, drew up business plans and implementation plans, ran development workshops, drafted letters for stakeholders and reports for members and government, and helped to develop new services. Eventually, the body merged with another organisation to become the Institute of Employability Professionals.
A new stakeholder strategy
A major schools organisation asked me to develop recommendations for a new approach to the way it worked with employers. I interviewed staff and stakeholders, tested ideas with the senior management team and presented a final set of proposals to the Board that had wide support.
Briefing and report writing
The UK Digest
Many of my clients subscribe to this monthly briefing on everything that's happening in education, training and related areas such as employment. Subscribers include major corporates, education agencies and colleges. What they have in common is the need to keep on top of policy, practice and the latest research and thinking.
Policy landscape briefings
Since June 2015, I have been providing occasional briefing presentations to the board and sub-groups of one my UK Digest subscribers. For each briefing I provide an overview of the landscape, along with key issues that their clients and partners are facing. Changes to the institutional landscape, curriculum, qualifications, accountability, wider support services, employment, unemployment, careers services and welfare are all included in a 30-minute presentation, followed by a discussion on the implications for their work.
Helping education, business and government communicate
For four years I had a contract to manage the communications work of a small organisation bringing together business, education and government. I wrote monthly intelligence updates, policy briefings and newsletters for members; drafted reports of seminars and conferences; gave presentations on education and skills policy; and undertook ad hoc research projects. In 2011, I wrote the report of a conference on The All-Age Careers Service.
Other briefing services
Clients regularly ask me to provide tailored briefings for teams, company meetings, seminars, etc. Briefings might be in the form of a written report, a presentation or a facilitated workshop. They might focus on a specific topic, on a particular part of the education landscape, or on providing a general update on latest developments.
I have provided briefings for head teacher groups, senior managers of education-related businesses, and organisations that want to engage in some way with the education system.