Topic

Talking Heads

Please try to watch one video before the live session.

We are incredibly lucky to now be able to hear from a range of voices in education.  Each will spend some time explaining their views about education – to be clear, we are not suggesting these speakers share our own views about education, simply that they somewhat represent a view of education which exists in the system. As you listen to the videos, consider which box in the matrix they sit. As mentioned earlier, their views will not sit neatly in one box, but like many of us, there may be a dominant value-set underpinning their actions and beliefs.

Leah Anyanwu (6 min)


Leah began her career as a Kindergarten teacher with KIPP in New Orleans. KIPP – standing for the Knowledge is Power Programme – is a large American charter  (academy) school operator. Due to her impact in the classroom, Leah rose to assume various leadership positions within the network including Team Leader and Instructional Coach. She was a Teach for America Greater New Orleans corps member and later served on the board for The Collective, a network for TFA alumni of color. She was a finalist for the New Orleans Excellence in Teaching Award and a recipient of the 2016 Sontag Prize in Urban Education. Leah worked with Leadership for Educational Equity where she organized the New Orleans community to address socio-economic challenges that prevented students from accessing a quality education. In 2016, Leah moved to Nairobi, Kenya to support an emerging school network. She went on to serve as the Program and Evaluation Director at Dignitas. There, she led curriculum development for over 400 teachers and school leaders and drove the company’s growth to support over 30,000 students across East Africa. Leah holds a Master of Science in Educational Studies from Binghamton University.

Taylor Delhagen (7 min)

Taylor Delhagen started his teaching journey back in 2006 in Crown Heights, Brooklyn at The School for Democracy and Leadership where he taught high school history. He then joined the Achievement First team and helped open up their first high school in Brooklyn where he had a blast teaching history, coaching new teachers, and serving as the department chair for the next six years. After his tenure at Achievement First, he teamed up with Ascend Public Charter Schools in Brownsville to open their first high school built on the pillars of restorative practices and the liberal arts. He currently works as a Professor of Practice and History Methods at The Relay Graduate School of Education.

Carolyn Laws (5 min)

Carolyn has been Headteacher at St James’ Catholic High School since 2017. She has taught and led in London for her entire career, in a range of schools in challenging urban areas. With a genuinely comprehensive intake and higher than average number of disadvantaged students, St James’ has regularly been recognised for excellent progress with outcomes that put it in the top fifth of schools nationally for progress and attainment. Carolyn is a practising Catholic dedicated to inclusive, comprehensive education. Her commitment to equality of opportunity for all is inspired by her maternal grandmother whose school in Calcutta she attended as a child, where the values of love and service were underpinned by a rigorous approach to discipline and high academic standards. This ethos is one she has brought into her work of continuing school improvement.

Mainak Roy (5 min)

Mainak is an engineer by training and a teacher by choice. His Fellowship experience with Teach For India transformed his career choices, as he took upon himself to strengthen the movement for education equity. He thrives on designing robust interventions that will change the education space and will help ALL children have access to quality education. In 2014, he co-founded Simple Education Foundation with Rahul Bhanot with a vision to make excellent education accessible for all children. Post Fellowship, Mainak joined Teach For India as a Program Manager and worked for 2 years in Mumbai & Delhi, training different cohorts of Fellows.

Mark Smith (10 min)

Mark is the CEO and Co-Founder of Ada, the National College for Digital Skills. Ada is the first new FE College in England since 1993. Ada opened in 2016 in Tottenham Hale with the mission to educate and empower the next generation of diverse digital talent. The College now educates a diverse cohort of 500 students and apprentices working with a wide range of industry partners such as Deloitte, IBM, Salesforce, King Games and Bank of America to bring its curriculum to life. The College has recently launched a pilot programme in Greater Manchester. The College regularly achieves the highest grades in the country for its computing qualifications.

Prior to Ada, Mark was a member of the inaugural cohort of Teach First in 2003. He has subsequently worked for Lloyds Banking group in the UK and South Africa, and helped establish a school in Uganda. He graduated from Harvard in 2011 with an interdisciplinary Masters in Education before joining The Future Leaders Trust, an education leadership charity as their Director of Impact.

Michael Young (20 min)

Michael Young has been a professor at the Institute of Education for over 50 years. Through a number of publications during his time at the IOE, he is central to the debate about knowledge and the school curriculum and has many publications that demonstrate a critical focus on knowledge in education. In 1986 Michael opened a centre for post-16 education, which enabled him to practically implement his ideas of knowledge in education. 

In 1971, four years after joining the IOE, Michael published ‘Knowledge and Control’, which proposed that the sociology of education should focus on the curriculum as a social process in itself, rather than being a mere reflection of social class differences. His research led in 1990 to his co-authoring, with his colleague, Ken (now Professor Ken) Spours and others, the IPPR’s A British Baccalaureate: Ending the division between education and training, a report which was to continue to influence debates about post 16 education up to and after the Tomlinson Report in 2004.

Michael’s research on post 16 qualifications led to frequent invitations to visit South Africa, where he contributed to debates about the future of education after the end of apartheid. His discussions with South African education researchers were influential in him revising his earlier ideas about the sociology of knowledge in ‘Bringing Knowledge Back In’, a book that was to win second prize in the Society for Education Studies Book of the Year awards for 2008.

In the last decade Michael has continued to write about the importance of a critical focus on the question of knowledge in education – an issue that has gained renewed importance for both teachers and policy makers at a time when a growing number of schools are adopting the idea of a ‘knowledge-led curriculum for all’.

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