The father of academies. Former education advisor to Tony Blair when prime minister, he devised and drove the academies, they are publicly funded state schools outside local authority control, and are steadily replacing existing schools. In 2005 there were 27 secondary academies, but over 2000 were open by 2017. At primary level, 4,087 are currently open. Strongly resisted by many on the left, academies are likely to stay for the foreseeable future. If Jeremy Corbyn is elected Prime Minister, he may find it difficult reversing them. Adonis also played a key role in the establishment of Teach First, which has introduced large numbers of able graduates into the most deprived state schools. In July this year, Adonis shifted his attack to tuition fees at universities, which he helped introduce, “In my view, fees have now become so politically diseased, they should be abolished entirely”. Their continuation in their current form may be unlikely.

The Seldon List 2017


These 20 figures, ten women, ten men, encompass those who I believe are having or will have the most powerful effect on our schools and universities. Some are household names, many are not. They all should be. Education at every level is riven by major disputes, and now more so than ever. The list of 20 contains those with pungent views on these debates, which include: whether we should be educating young people to lead a good life or merely for jobs; whether a traditional academic curriculum is suitable for all and whether it is right that it fails a third or more; and whether the state or the market should be dominant in deciding the content and delivery of education.

Reducing the figures to just 20 was agonizing: a further ten at least were very close to inclusion. Next year’s table will drop 10 from here. The key factor in the selection is who is setting the agenda for education, whether leaders of individual institutions, politicians and administrators, or academics and writers.

As education affects all of us, far more than we may think, these 20 contain some of the most influential figures in the country today.

Sir Anthony Seldon

Sir Anthony is one of Britain’s leading contemporary historians, educationalist, commentator and political author. Anthony Seldon is currently the Vice Chancellor of Buckingham University. He was head of Brighton College and of Wellington College, two of Britain’s leading independent schools. He is author of over 40 books on contemporary history, including the inside books on the last four Prime Ministers, politics and education, is co-founder of Action for Happiness, honorary historian to Downing Street and a Director of The Royal Shakespeare Company.



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