Professor Sonia Blandford is Founder and CEO of Achievement for All and one of the UK's leading practitioners of education. Sonia is passionate about raising the aspirations and improving the attainment of all children and young people regardless of their background or need. She was named this year in Debrett's list of the Top 500 Most Influential People in the UK.
Sonia is currently Professor of Education and Social Enterprise at the London Centre for Leadership in Learning at the Institute of Education, and Honorary Professor of Education, University of Warwick. She has published over 150 articles, columns and books on educational leadership, special educational needs, teaching and learning, professional development and music education. Sonia is an advisor to the UK government, European Commission and several international governments.
She has two Masters (music and education), and was among the first to complete the UK inaugural Doctor of Education (EdD) programme at the University of Bristol. She went on to become Pro-Vice Chancellor and Dean of Education at Canterbury Christchurch University.
Sonia began her career as a music teacher and has worked in primary and secondary schools across the UK. She has been actively involved in creating and sustaining 7 charities that continue to provide educational, social and artistic opportunities for local and national communities including The Corsham Windband Association (1981 - Founder), Teach First (2002 - Founding Ambassador), and National Orchestra for All (2011 - Founding Adviser).
Nick is the CEO of Family Links. He taught for ten years in the UK and USA, specialising in social and emotional learning and professional development for educators.
Russell studied philosophy, politics and economics at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, graduating with a first class degree in 1993.
In 1998, he joined the management consultancy Hay Group. Within a year of joining, Russell was working on education projects, including research into teacher effectiveness for the then DfES. This was the start of his strong association with issues of leadership and management in schools. In 2000, he helped to set up Transforming Learning – a ‘dot com’ business unit dedicated to collecting pupil feedback on classroom climate via the internet. Transforming Learning was used in over 2000 schools. In 2003 he founded Hay Group’s education practice, leading a team of consultants working directly with leadership teams in hundreds of schools of every phase, size and location, as well as government agencies.
Russell’s experience spanning education, private industry and government has made him a passionate advocate of the quality of leadership in our schools, and he has had frequent opportunity to spread the word on the lessons that business could learn from education. Taking up the post as General Secretary of the NAHT, in September 2010, has given him the opportunity to campaign directly for the conditions that enable people to be great leaders in our schools.
Gareth is the Director of UK Poverty Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns at Save the Children. He was previously Head of Campaigns and External Affairs for Save the Children's UK programme which is focussed on tackling child poverty in the UK. Before joining Save the Children he worked in policy and public affairs at the NSPCC, and before that worked for seven years in advertising, creating campaigns for government and commercial clients.
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 and researcher. He is originally from New Jersey and has an Honours Bachelors degree in Economics from the University of Richmond and 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. In 2007 he was named the UK Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year and was awarded the 2010 CASE European Leadership Award and the 2013 UK Charity Principal of the Year Award. 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.