Heller is the best of the super-smart outsiders who have entered the school world in recent years. She had a career in fund management before joining the influential education charity Ark in 2004. Appointed chief executive in 2012, she oversees the running of some 40 schools in disadvantaged communities across the UK. Heller is single-minded, charismatic and highly energetic. Ark draws heavily on Doug Lemov, the American author who published Teach like a Champion and Making Every Lesson Count. The core principles are exemplary behaviour, highest expectations, outstanding teaching, depth over breadth of subjects and the importance of knowing every child. Ark schools have a passion for ensuring all their students go onto higher education, with an absolute drive towards highest achievement for all. “The schools that we run now, mixed schools for all students, are where we can deliver great education.” She is the sister of Zoe Heller, author of Notes on a Scandal.

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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