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David Hanson

Sunday 8th September 11.30 - 13.00

About David:

David started his career as a teacher in London comprehensive schools and later was a head mentor, OFSTED inspector and Director of Education.  He was Academies Project Leader at United Learning and then EC Harris, the international built asset management group.  During his career David has also been Chief Executive of the Teaching Awards Trust, working with Lord Putnam and the BBC; President of the Association of Inspectors and Advisers and for five years, Editor of the British Journal of Curriculum and Assessment. 

More recently, David was CEO of IAPS, the private schools group and founded the itrust charity which supports children in need.  David was a founding member of the Leamington Business Forum, a judge for the Leamington Business Awards and is Chairman of the i25 Independent School Awards.  David has provided consultancy, advice, support and training in UK, Europe, SE Asia, Africa and the Middle East and is STEM Chairman of the British International Education Association.


Don’t Trust the Experts: education policy system failure

I will seek to explain the apparent direct relationship between increased Government intervention in education and a decline in its effectiveness.

Eric Bentley said ‘Ours is an age of substitutes: instead of language, we have jargon; instead of principles, slogans; instead of genuine ideas, bright ideas’.  And, today, it would appear to be acceptable for politicians to tell us not to trust experts. Despite such retrograde cynicism, we have seen real improvements in all kinds of human activity, for example, in health, manufacturing and science. 

Each generation learns from and builds upon the successes of their predecessors.   So, there is no reason to suppose that education should be an exception to this rule.  Yet, despite the estimated annual spend of $5trillion, increasingly we feel that education policy and practices are not working.

We are told that we have moved from a century dominated by science and engineering to the communications age.  We are told that we have moved from a skills based culture to a knowledge based culture; from local workers to global workers.  This simple analysis is artificial.  However, it is true that there has been significant change.  For example, in the US, the intellectual property industries are now the most powerful element of the economy and in the UK the creative industries are bigger than manufacturing and agriculture put together.  Yet what happens in our schools has remained virtually unchanged for a century and our assessment system, rewards the wrong skills, knowledge and people. 

The questions I will explore are: What is education for and what should students learn?  What are the measures of success and how should we assess it?  And, how might intellectual meritocracy not only survive, but flourish in the 21st Century?


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