Lenon is the most influential figure in the independent sector. After twelve years as headmaster of Harrow, he became chair of the Independent Schools Council (ISC). He wants, however, to improve opportunities for all, not just the privileged, and is passionately committed to the state and independent sectors working together and raising attainment across both sectors. Earlier this year he published Much Promise which highlights how the performance of schools can be improved by focusing on individual schools including Brighton College under head Richard Cairns. Lenon has been on the board of Ofqual since 2011, which regulates qualifications, exams and tests and is on the board of the New Schools Network, which promotes free schools. Under Rachel Wolf, Nick Timothy and now Toby Young. It has overseen the creation of a series of innovative, if controversial, new state schools. Lenon is thoughtful, switched on and serious. He is the champion the independent sector needs in a political world that is almost uniformly sceptical, or worse.

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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