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The Fair Education Alliance presents: “Why has the social mobility engine in the UK stalled?”

The Telegraph Festival of Education is an annual education festival that offers attendees the chance to listen to speakers, take part in workshops and network with some of the senior figures in the education world. The festival is separated into zones such as: policy and inspiration, primary, secondary, governance, leadership, business admin and finance and a dedicated Student Zone.

The Fair Education Alliance's 2016 session was held on Friday 24th June at 1030. It took the form of a panel discussion on the question: “why has the social mobility engine in the UK stalled and how do we restart it?” A recent LSE study found that social mobility is actually declining in the UK and that this is in part due to the strong and increasing relationship between family income and educational attainment. Our panel attempted to unravel what has gone wrong and what can be done about it. 

Our panel consisted of: 

Sir Richard Lambert (Chair of the Fair Education Alliance)

  • Sir Richard joined the Financial Times after reading History at Balliol College, Oxford. He edited the Lex column and served as financial editor and New York bureau chief before being appointed deputy editor in 1983. He edited the paper between 1991 and 2001, and moved back to New York (1997-98) to launch the US edition.
  • After leaving the FT, Richard spent a semester at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard Business-University Collaboration. In 2003, he started a three-year term as an independent member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee. He was Director General of the CBI from 2006 to 2011. 
  • Richard was appointed Chancellor of the University of Warwick in 2008, and is an independent non-executive of EY and chair of Big Society Trust. In 2013 he as Chairman, was appointed the task of establishing an independent organisation, The Banking Standards Review Council, to raise standards of competence and behaviour in the Banking Industry. He was a Trustee of the British Museum from 2003 to 2011, and was appointed its Chairman in July 2014.
  • He was appointed the Chair of the Fair Education Alliance in September 2015.

Brett Wigdortz (Teach First)

  • Brett has led Teach First as its CEO since its launch in July 2002. He wrote the original business plan for the charity while working as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, then took what was originally planned as a six month leave of absence in February 2002 to develop and build support for the idea. Previously he worked as a consultant, a journalist or a researcher. He has a Masters degree in Economics from the University of Hawaii. 
  • As well as the advisory boards of the Educational Endowment Fund and STIR, Brett was a member of Teacher Standards Review Board. He was awarded an OBE in the 2013 Queen's New Year's Honours list for Services to Education.
  • His book, Success Against the Odds, a candid account of the first ten years of Teach First, was named WHSmith's Business Book of the Month. 

Joanna Page (Allen & Overy)

  • Joanna is a partner at Allen & Overy and acts in corporate and commercial disputes, both domestic and international. She is highly rated for her experience in international arbitration and also developed Allen & Overy's Contentious Insurance group, which is rated Tier 1 by both Chambers and Legal 500 for policyholder claims.
  • Joanna speaks regularly in the UK, in Europe and elsewhere on English law and particularly English insurance law. For ten years she taught Company Law at Cambridge University. She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and a CEDR Accredited Mediator. She has higher rights of audience (Civil)
  • She is appointed by the Law Society of England & Wales as their lead expert on an EU Expert Group examining whether differences in insurance law across the EU present obstacles to trade.
  • She is a trustee with the charity Governors for Schools, also known as SGOSS which seeks to identify potential school governors candidates and place them with schools. 
  • Joanna is married and has three young sons aged 12, 10 and 7.

Mary Curnock Cook (UCAS)

  • Mary joined UCAS as Chief Executive in January 2010. 
  • Prior to that Mary was Director of Qualifications and Skills at the Qualifications & Curriculum Development Agency where she led on qualifications policy and development for the 14-19 reform programme.
  • Mary has an MSc in general management from the London Business School. She was awarded an OBE in the Queen's birthday honours 2000 for services to training in hospitality and tourism. She is a governor at Swindon Academy - a 3-19 school. In addition, she is a trustee of the progress to selective higher education. She is also a trustee of the National Star Foundation which provides highly specialist care and learning support for young people with complex physical and learning difficulties. 
  • In 2015 she was awarded an honorary fellowship at Birkbeck College, University of London, and in October 2015, became an Academic Visitor at Hertford College, University of Oxford.

Rod Bristow (Pearson)

  • Rod Bristow is President, UK & Core Markets for Pearson. Core Markets include those 100+ countries with, in general, developed economies and education systems.

  • In 2010, Rod became President for Pearson UK and was appointed to lead all other Core Markets for Pearson in January 2014.

  • Rod has worked in education, publishing and assessment for thirty years in universities, schools, colleges, professional training and learning technologies in the UK and Internationally. He is a Trustee for the Education and Employers Taskforce, a Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts, Governor for Sir Charles Kao University Technical College and past President of the Publishers Association.  He is also Chair of the judging panel for the National Teaching Awards
  • Rod is a graduate of University College London.


Earlier Event: June 14
Report Card 2015 Manchester Launch
Later Event: July 25
Teach First Impact Conference