Become a knowledge broker: no specific #Alevels or #GCSEs required.


The think tank Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) published two interesting documents yesterday and today which cover similar ground to the way my own thinking has been developing on educational issues.

The first is a report which looked at proposals for ensuring that all English young people (especially in London as the research was funded by the GLA) are given the right opportunities to continue with education or enter employment or training for employment. This resonates very much with my own paper on local strategic education partnerships which advocates extending real choice in career opportunities to all.

The second is a more discursive paper by Sir Michael Barber and colleagues at Pearson, the publisher and educational organisation, examining why the Pacific region is doing so well economically and advocating ‘whole system’ approaches to ensure continued educational success. The paper covers a huge amount of literature and starts with a fascinating historical context to how the Atlantic region first dominated world growth and has fairly recently been taken over by the Pacific region. As a former historian who once specialised in the impact of technological change on industries, I applaud this approach.

Both of these publications tackle education issues in similar but different ways. They contribute to the intelligent debate about what might work at a system, national, regional or local level. Knowledge brokers such as myself try to interpret this information and sift out the key parts depending on specific relevance and need. This takes analytical skills, which can be learned from a youngish age through a range of courses, as well as the sheer experience of having done the same exercise many times in a policy or research job.

Coincidentally ( but I suspect not), these two publications came out just before today’s GCSE examination results in the UK, which have set off another annual debate about real versus perceived changes in educational standards, hard on the heels of A-level results last week. The tweets around this all add to the ether of facts and myths about curricula, teaching and assessment.

So whatever qualifications you have, as long as you are good at analysing facts and arguments then now is the time to think of a new profession. Become a knowledge broker.

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