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The Times Education Commission has been set up to examine the future of education

The Times Education Commission

The Times Education Commission has been set up to examine the future of education in light of the Covid-19 crisis, declining social mobility, new technology and the changing nature of work. 

Announced today (24 May), The Times Education Commission is a year long project expected to inform government policy and to lead to radical change across schools, colleges and universities. 

Beginning on the 1st June the commission brings together experts including senior MPs, head teachers, academics, vice-chancellors and a children’s author.

It has a wide-ranging remit, including the curriculum, qualifications, social mobility, exclusions, new technology, lifelong learning and the number of people going to university.

The Times Education Commission will draw up proposals for reform in the following ten areas:

  1. The purpose of education.
  2. Social mobility (to include the attainment gap, early-years).
  3. What children learn (the curriculum).
  4. How children learn (teaching and pedagogy).
  5. Assessment.
  6. Education in the community (to include family, lifelong learning, classroom of the future, faith schools and the environment).
  7. Mental health and wellbeing (to include character, brain development, food and fitness).
  8. The role of AI and technology.
  9. Exclusion, alternative provision and special educational needs.
  10. Further education and higher education

Rachel Sylvester, columnist for The Times and chair of The Times Education Commission said:

 “Now is the perfect time in light of the pandemic to consider a transformation to the education system. We are thankful to our brilliant list of commissioners for agreeing to take part, and we will work with them to ensure the recommendations are heard and can lead to positive change.”

John Witherow, editor of The Times said: 

Education has been in crisis this past year and it’s time to take stock and see what needs to be done to reform it to give young people a better start in life.”

Sir Anthony Seldon, a commissioner for The Times Education Commission and former head of Wellington College said:

“For many years, it’s been clear that the school system is no longer doing the job required of it. We have an education system profoundly linked to the 20th-century model.

“Covid has highlighted this even further. If there was a royal commission it would take five years, we don’t have the luxury of that time. We need vastly to improve the education system and make it much better suited to the 21st century. Governments are too wedded to the status quo way of thinking.”

Seldon said he hoped the commission’s findings would feed into the academic year starting in September 2022. He said:

There is no point producing a marvellous report that sits on shelves. This has to be a call for action that has a very high impact.”

Chairwoman: Rachel Sylvester


  • Geoff Barton General secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders. Former head, King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds.
  • Lord (Karan) Bilimoria Founder of Cobra Beer, president of the CBI and Chancellor of Birmingham University.
  • Sarah-Jayne Blakemore Professor of psychology and cognitive neuroscience at Cambridge University, who leads a group studying the adolescent brain and behaviour.
  • Sir Damon Buffini Founding partner of Permira, chairman of the National Theatre and chairman of the Culture Recovery Fund Board
  • Dame Sally Coates Director of secondary schools, United Learning, which runs 90 schools, and author of government review on education in prison.
  • Evelyn Forde Head of Copthall School, Barnet, and winner of TES headteacher of the year 2020.
  • Kiran Gill Founder, The Difference, which sends high-flying teachers into pupil referral units and Alternative Provision schools.
  • Robert Halfon Conservative MP for Harlow and chairman of the Commons education select committee.
  • Lucy Heller Chief executive of Ark, an education charity with 38 academy schools and a range of ventures bringing wider change to the education system.
  • Tristram Hunt Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, former Labour MP and shadow education secretary.
  • Lord (Jo) Johnson Former universities minister, senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School and chairman of TES (formerly Times Educational Supplement).
  • Paul Johnson Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  • Lucy Kellaway Teacher at Mossbourne Academy, Hackney, and founder of Now Teach.
  • Lady (Martha) Lane Fox Chairwoman of WeTransfer, chancellor of the Open University and chairwoman of Lords Covid-19 select committee
  • Michael Morpurgo Children’s laureate and co-founder of Farms for City Children.
  • Heather McGregor Executive dean of Edinburgh Business School, Heriot-Watt University.
  • Anne Longfield Former children’s commissioner.
  • Lord (Martin) Rees Astronomer Royal, former president of the Royal Society and former master, Trinity College, Cambridge.
  • Dame Nancy Rothwell President and vice chancellor of the University of Manchester, chairwoman of the Russell Group.
  • Sir Anthony Seldon Contemporary historian, authority on wellbeing and AI in education, and vice chancellor of Buckingham University.
  • Sir Tim Smit Founder of the Eden Project
  • Amanda Melton Principal of Nelson and Colne College 
  • Andreas Schleicher The Commission’s international adviser and Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris.
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