No list of the top 20 can ignore our Royals. Prince Charles set up the Prince’s Trust in 1976 to help young people aged 11 to 30 get into jobs, education and training, which has touched one million people. In 2013 he became Patron of Step up to Serve, #iwill, a national campaign to ensure that 1.5 million young people are in active volunteering by 2020. His ideas on Harmony have inspired Ashley School in Surrey, our most interesting primary. The Duke of York founded iDEA in 2014/15, a national project offering school students a series of online challenges and awards, which is rapidly developing digital awareness in schools. In 2014, he launched Pitch@Palace and is spearheading a campaign to implant entrepreneurship in every school in the country. The young royals, William, Harry and Kate have touched the heart and conscience of the country with their campaign to enhance the nation’s awareness of mental health. Then there’s the Duke of Edinburgh scheme, bringing outdoors, challenge and service to millions. Whoever said the Royal Family was redundant?

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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