Greening replaced Nicky Morgan as education secretary last July, who herself replaced Michael Gove, one of the most influential education secretaries since the war, insisting that a serious academic education was the right of every child regardless of background. Morgan’s great focus in her few years has been on development of character and resilience, which she planted firmly on the national stage. Greening has had a subdued first year in office with Number 10 pushing for grammar schools against her judgement. But she survived the post general election reshuffle and is now in a position of unrivalled power. She is passionate about social mobility, about ensuring that children from areas of high deprivation are offered a quality education, about LGBT rights and that all students acquire life and work skills while at school. She is clever, passionate and very determined. Expect her to become one of the most activist ministers in government over the next few years.

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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