My memories of teaching are still more resonant than of any other job I have done. I once said, to my new bosses dismay, that once you have worked in a school, everything else feels a little soulless. My first ever published article described pupils' predictions for Ambler School in 2098. Later, a journalist somehow found out I was an ex-teacher, and following an article in the Independent where I claimed "I was scared I would be stuck for life", I received a regular stream of requests, including a GLR radio car parked on my street, asking me to moan about the joys of teaching.
On my first day at ippr, I was asked to write a literature review, so rang my mum to ask her what a literature review was. The project, on parent-school relationships, led to the publication of Parents Exist OK!, a terrible name for a book that I am still proud of, and resonates with many current policy debates around parents and schools. It was probably better at predicting than shaping the future, despite being translated into braille for David Blunkett (then Secretary of State for Education), a short TES article, and getting the TES' 'book of the week'.
I was also asked to finish editing a collection of papers on citizenship education, tomorrow's citizens. asking the question 'Will the class of 2007 be true citizens?'
At the height of the UK's teacher shortage, my favourite ever bearded colleague Martin Johnson and I began a project on The Future of the Teaching Profession. A few articles, proposing a greater flow between teaching and other professions, a new approach to professional development -'beware of the cowboys', and a piece on supply teachers.
Martin and I also collaborated on a project on Schooling in London, supporting the creation of the DfES' London Challenge.
With Jodie Reed (a beardless wonder), I wrote a paper and an article on school league tables which I wasn't allowed to call '20,000 league tables under the sea'.
Damien Tambini and I edited a collection of papers on ICT and Learning, under the tiresome title @School.
Prolific if not always coherent, I also wrote about:
- The role of the private sector,
- How children could reduce teachers' workloads
- Schools and children's mental health
- Cutting class sizes in deprived areas
- Whether schools should set up companies
- How primary schools should take control of their curriculum
- A new approach to target setting in public services
- How schools could let pupils decide how their cash reserves should be spent
At Creative Partnerships, it was more difficult to write what I felt about the education world swirling around me. Sticking to various scripts, I wrote tentatively about Creative Partnerships,
more confidently about the role of partners in transforming the curriculum, and somewhat stridently about how the programme was harnessing the power of half-formed ideas.
After our successful Ofsted report, a Guardian article in 2006 contained much of our recent thinking about the future of the programme. I also began the Teaching Outside the Classroom programme.
In 2007, at Gordon Brown's creative peak (just before he became PM), with whispers growing around the development of a "talent agenda", I attempted to define what it all might mean - Talent Nation.
And in the midst of leading Find Your Talent, I tried to explain the programme's rationale and vision in this article.