Daisy Christodoulou is one of the most influential and innovative exponents of a traditional academic education. She rose to prominence while at Warwick University where she captained the winning team in 2006/07 for ‘University Challenge’. After joining the Teach First program, she made her mark as an exponent of the “knowledge-based curriculum”. In 2014, she published the striking book Seven Myths about Education. These are that: facts prevent understanding, teacher-led instruction is passive, the 21st century fundamentally changes everything, you can always just look it up, we should teach ‘transferable skills’, projects and activities are the best way to learn and, finally, teaching knowledge is indoctrination. She has recently taken on a new challenge, reforming assessment. Currently she is working on a start-up called No More Marking. A trenchant voice against modern ‘fads’, she is vocal on social media, and is celebrated by traditionalists in government of whom the high priest is schools minister Nick Gibb.

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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