Jonathan is Head of the Education Unit, where he directs research on all aspects of education including Early Years, schools, skills and HE. Before joining Policy Exchange Jonathan worked at Serco Group, where he was Director of Strategy and Market Development in both the company's specialist education and health practices. Prior to that, he was Head of Open Public Services in the Cabinet Office, where he co-authored the Open Public Services White Paper, and Senior Policy Adviser and then Head of Education in the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit under the administrations of both Gordon Brown and David Cameron, where he worked on a range of education issues including the expansion of Teach First, the future of Academies, a national funding formula, and the pupil premium.
Outside of work Jonathan is the Chair of Governors and Co-Founder of Greenwich Free School, a new 11-18 school set up in Woolwich under the Coalition free school policy which has been frequently referenced and praised by politicians and commentators including Michael Gove and Andrew Adonis. He is also Vice Chair of Governors of one of his local schools, and is a Trustee of WWV, a small charity that promotes volunteering amongst school children and other groups including ex offenders, ex servicemen, and disabled young people.
Jonathan holds a degree in Politics from the University of Durham
- The Importance of Teachers: A collection of essays on teacher recruitment and retention
04 March 2016
The Importance of Teachers is a collection of 11 essays from expert commentators and participants in education which set out practical things which government, schools and heads might do to tackle the teacher supply crunch currently affecting schools in England.
- Time to Care
25 January 2016
Time to Care sets out how the presumed introduction of 30 hours a week free childcare for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds offers a potentially transformative possibility of evolving childcare and early years education into a mature public services market like 5-16 schooling or the NHS. The report sets out the benefits of such an approach and makes further recommendations for the Department for Education to take forward in this area.
- Higher, Further, Faster, More: Improving higher level professional and technical education
18 October 2015
Higher, Further, Faster, More calls for BIS to redirect up to £532m of the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE) grant to improve the quality of Further Education. Whilst acknowledging the importance of our Higher Education sector, the report points out that universities are sitting on reserves of £12.3bn at a time when 1 in 4 FE colleges could effectively go bankrupt within a year.
- A Rising Tide: The Competitive Benefits of Free Schools
09 March 2015
Free Schools are raising standards for other pupils across the local community, especially in some of the poorest performing schools, as well for the pupils who attend them. A Rising Tide sets out for the first time detailed analysis on the performance of local schools where a Free School has opened.
- Education Manifesto
06 March 2015
The Education Manifesto offers a suite of education policy proposals, including ideas on compulsory maths for all 16-18 year olds, a student debt forgiveness scheme for teachers in state schools, incentives to attract teachers to work and stay in regions and a publicly funded retraining scheme linked to growth sectors in the UK’s new industrial strategy.
- Primary Focus: The next stage of improvement for primary schools in England
22 September 2014
A “perfect storm” of challenges could see over 3,000 primary schools (20%) falling below the government’s tough new minimum standards in 2016. Primary Focus says the most effective way to ensure teachers and schools have the capability and capacity to cope with these challenges is to convert all primary schools into Academies, and then ask each school to join an Academy ‘chain’ by 2020.
- Only A Matter of Time? A framework for the most effective way to lengthen the school day in England
11 August 2014
Both Labour and the Conservatives have recently called for more schools to run longer days – either to provide more opportunities for extra curricular activities, to help learning, or to provide a safe and secure place for childcare for working parents. Our report, and accompanying polling from YouGov, looks at what a longer day might look like in practice.
- Watching the Watchmen: The future of school inspections in England
17 March 2014
Watching the Watchmen calls for a fundamental change in the power relationship between schools and Ofsted. It calls for lesson observations to be ditched, for Ofsted to consider abolishing or radically reducing the number of inspectors contracted to private companies and for inspectors to have relevant and recent teaching experience. It also proposes a new two-stage inspection process that will allow more resources to be focused on struggling schools.
- Knowledge and the Curriculum: A collection of essays to accompany E. D. Hirsch’s lecture at Policy Exchange
17 September 2015
Ahead of a speech by American education academic E. D. Hirsch, Policy Exchange has drawn together a collection from a diverse range of education policy experts discussing the impact that Hirsch's thinking has had on the curriculum.
- Crossing the Line: Improving success rates among students retaking English and maths GCSEs
24 August 2015
Secondary schools should cover the costs of some or all their students who fail to get a C in GCSE English or maths and end up transferring from the school to a Further Education (FE) College to take their resits.
- Reversing the ‘Widget Effect’: The introduction of performance-related pay for all teachers in English schools
03 January 2014
Reversing the 'Widget Effect' welcomes the government’s introduction of performance pay in schools. The report shows that performance-related pay has been implemented in other countries without adverse effects for teachers or students, and finds that overwhelmingly teachers want to be paid based on the quality of their teaching. The report stresses that the system implemented must be fair and transparent in order to succeed, and sets out what a well-designed system would look like.
- (Conservative Conference) What is the next stage of the Conservative's schools revolution?
30 September 2014
With Alice Thomson, The Times (CHAIR), Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP, Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities, Lucy Heller, ARK Schools, James O'Shaughnessy, Floreat Education and Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange.
- (Conservative Conference) Made in Britain: Skills, manufacturing and a modern enterprise policy
30 September 2014
With Graham Stuart MP, Chairman of the Education Select Committee, Andrew McCall, Ford of Europe, Gavin Poole, Here East, Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange and Alice Taylor, MakieLab.
- (Conservative Conference) Why on earth does going to university cost so much money? Achieving financial sustainability in the English HE system
29 September 2014
With John Gill, Times Higher Education, Margot James MP, Carl Lygo, BPP University, Nick Ratcliffe, Russell Group and Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange.
- (Labour Conference) Why on earth does going to university cost so much money? Achieving financial sustainability in the English HE system
23 September 2014
With Alex Bols, Guild HE (CHAIR), Rt Hon John Denham MP, Former Secretary of State, Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills, Carl Lygo, BPP University, Toni Pearce, NUS and Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange.
- (Labour Conference) Parent Led Academies, Directors of School Standards and Collaboration for all: What should Labour promise on schools in 2015?
23 September 2014
With George Eaton, New Statesman (CHAIR), Tristram Hunt MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, John Blake, Labour Teachers, Chris Keates, NASUWT, Laura McInerney, Academies Week and Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange.
- (Labour Conference) Made in Britain: Skills, manufacturing and a modern enterprise policy
22 September 2014
With Afua Hirsch, Sky News (CHAIR), Adrian Bailey MP, Simon Milner, Facebook, Gavin Poole, Here East, Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange and Andy Westwood, Guild HE.
- (Labour Conference) Children’s Centres: At the heart of early intervention?
24 September 2013
With Anna White, The Telegraph (CHAIR), Stephen Twigg MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Carey Oppenheim, Early Intervention Foundation, Lucy Lee, Policy Exchange and Dame Clare Tickell, Action for Children.
- Every school to become an academy, ministers to announce
16 March 2016
The BBC credits Policy Exchange's 'Primary Focus' report as a key contributor to the Government's academies policy.
- Give teachers career breaks to stop them quitting, say heads
04 March 2016
The Times covers Policy Exchange's launch of The Importance of Teachers: A collection of essays on teacher recruitment and retention, and highlights the need to improve teacher retention and recruitment especially among women.
- Teachers need flexible working to stop women leaving profession, says thinktank
04 March 2016
The Guardian cites Jonathan Simons', Policy Exchange's Head of Education, recommendations that flexible working and greater benefits are needed to improve teacher retention and stop women from leaving teaching after maternity leave.
- Why Mr Osborne's 'good settlement' for education will mean extra cuts for thousands of schools
25 November 2015
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, is quoted by the TES saying that the Spending Review will feel like a good settlement in the education sector, although some academies will face real terms funding reductions.
- Teachers compete to write textbook activities in best countries
08 November 2015
SchoolsWeek quotes Policy Exchanges Head of Education Jonathan Simons from his recent speech at the Politics in Education summit in London. Jonathan highlighted the fact that teachers should keep in mind that at times government may consider the concerns of parents to be more relevant than those of teachers.
- Further education and skills sector misses out on £250m in FE loans cash
30 October 2015
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, is quoted by FE Week commenting on figures which show far fewer loans for FE courses have been taken out than were allocated for.
- ‘Universites are awash with cash’
19 October 2015
The Times covers Policy Exchange's new report Higher, Further, Faster, More, which calls for government to redirect up to £532m of universities funding to the Further Education system. Universities, the report says, will be able to make up the shortfall by drawing down their £12bn reserves.
- Protect free school meals, say doctors
27 September 2015
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, is quoted by BBC News arguing that pilot studies show that universal free school meals don't have a direct impact on improving BMI or childhood obesity, and are not the best use of money in tight financial circumstances.
- Labour wants schools to be local
25 September 2015
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, is quoted by Schools Week criticising Labour proposals to impose further scrutiny from local councils on schools.
- Free school meals 'could be scrapped'
20 September 2015
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, is quoted by The Telegraph questioning the sustainability of the Universal Free School Meals programme.
- Could Corbyn win mean less scrutiny of HE policy?
14 September 2015
In a THE article on what the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader could mean for higher education policy, Policy Exchange's Head of Education Jonathan Simons is quoted questioning how Corbyn's plans to scrap tuition fees would be funded.
- ‘Free marketeer’ Javid may seek radical thinking in BIS review
13 August 2015
Policy Exchange's Head of Education Jonathan Simons is quoted in Times Higher Education commenting on the extent to which Business Secretary, Sajid Javid, will go in order to make efficiency savings within the department.
- Higher education cash should go to ‘falling over’ FE
22 June 2015
In an interview with FE Week, Policy Exchange's Head of Education Jonathan Simons calls for BIS to divert cash from universities to Further Education.
- Politicians urged to dial down ‘military’ rhetoric about schools
14 June 2015
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, is quoted in the Yorkshire Post noting the existence of a counter-cyclical pattern to teacher recruitment - that as the economy grows the number of people applying to be a teacher falls and then reverses as the economy does badly.
- Education bill to close loopholes blocking academies expansion
03 June 2015
The Guardian quotes Policy Exchange's Head of Education Jonathan Simons' reaction to the government's education bill intended to remove bureaucratic and legal loopholes that inhibit the conversion of struggling local authority schools into academies. Jonathan suggests the government will need to also work with high performing schools and encourage them to become formal clusters to realise the full potential of academies.
- Future failing schools will be forced to become academies
03 June 2015
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, is quoted by The Times in an article concerning proposals to remove failing schools from local authority control and instead turn them into academies. Jonathan emphasises that the government should be equally tough on academies that are underperforming themselves.
- Jonathan Simons on the Schools Week webinar
18 May 2015
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, appears on the Schools Week podcast alongside Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan looking at a Conservative government will mean for education.
- The storm in the aftermath
14 May 2015
Times Higher Education report comments made by Jonathan Simons, Head of Education at Policy Exchange, at a recent Pearson seminar that the true essence of a government comes through in its second term. If there is such a thing as 'Cameronism', Jonathan argues, we may see it now.
- Teachers threaten parents over video games
29 March 2015
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, is quoted by The Times responding to letters from schools in Cheshire threatening parents with police involvement in order to prevent their children staying up late playing video games. Jonathan argues that whilst schools should try and help on issues that negatively affect pupils' work, involving the police is unlikely to be helpful.
- Free schools: David Cameron pledges 500 more by 2020
09 March 2015
BBC News covers Policy Exchange's new report A Rising Tide which examines the effects of Free Schools on neighbouring schools. Head of Education and report co-author Jonathan Simons is quoted saying that new Free Schools are associated with an increase in results in lower performing neighbouring schools.
- Tories consider plan to pay off teachers' student debt
06 March 2015
The TES covers Policy Exchange's new Education Manifesto, reporting that the Conservatives are considering adopting its calls for the state to pay off teachers' student loans in their 2015 manifesto.
- State education sector needs more effective oversight, says audit office
30 October 2014
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, is quoted in The Guardian responding to a National Audit Office report which claims that 1.6 million pupils are still being taught in state-funded schools rated less than good. Jonathan argues that effective oversight of school performance is vital for protecting taxpayers, parents and pupils and that the report highlights the need for some important changes to the accountability regime.
- Questions raised over Ofsted quality after cut-and-paste sacking
27 October 2014
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, is quoted in Academies Week commenting on the dismissal of an Ofsted lead inspector who was found to have copied and pasted whole paragraphs from previous reports. Jonathan argues that the apparent lack of quality control measures that allowed this to continue for a couple of years is troubling. Our report, Watching the Watchmen, in which we called for unreliable lesson observations to be scrapped as part of school inspections in cited in the article.
- School ‘rescue package’ plan branded ineffective and ‘clunky’
13 October 2014
Policy Exchange's Head of Education, Jonathan Simons, is quoted in The Financial Times responding to the Conservative Party's plans to reinvigorate failing schools. The proposals, which will be set out in the Party's manifesto, include the creation of a National Teacher Service consisting of 1,500 talented teachers who could be deployed to struggling schools.
- Maximise returns – go long
09 October 2014
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, is quoted in the Times Higher Education from our Conservative Party conference event Why on earth does going to university cost so much money? Achieving financial sustainability in the English HE system. Jonathan said that he wanted as many CEOs, political leaders and people with influence educated at British universities.
- John Denham: £9K fee system ‘wastes money’
24 September 2014
Our Labour Party Conference fringe event, Why on earth does going to university cost so much money? is covered by Times Higher Education. Speaking on the panel, Rt Hon John Denham MP, former Secretary of State, Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills, argued that the £9,000 fee system “wastes money hand over fist.”
- Make all state schools academies, says report by rightwing thinktank
23 September 2014
Our report, Primary Focus is covered by The Guardian. The report calls for all primary schools to convert into Academies and join a "chain" by 2020 to ensure that, in the face of multiple challenges (including a new curriculum and assessment systems), teachers and schools have the capacity and capability to meet tough new minimum standards being introduced in 2016.
- Fifth of primary schools 'will fail to hit tough new targets'
23 September 2014
The Daily Telegraph covers our recently published report Primary Focus. The report highlights how a number of challenges, including a new curriculum and assessment systems, could see 1 in 5 primary schools failing to meet tough new minimum standards being introduced in 2016.
- Fifth of primary schools set to fail basic standards
23 September 2014
The Financial Times covers our recently published report, Primary Focus which identifies a "perfect storm" of challenges which could see over 3,000 primary schools falling below tough new minimum standards in reading, writing and maths. To ensure that teachers can focus on teaching and learning in the classroom, the report recommends that all primaries convert to Academies and join "chains" over the next 5 years.
- How far will teachers go to improve GCSE results if their pay depends on it?
21 August 2014
Jonathan Simons, Head of Education policy at Policy Exchange is quoted on The Guardian’s Teacher Network site in an article on performance-related pay and the extent to which a teacher’s pay depends on the grades their pupils achieve. Jonathan argues that how far exam results affect salaries is at the discretion of the school and determined by what systems are in place.
- Running a school is no piece of cake, universities find
04 July 2014
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, is quoted in the TES discussing the problematic experience universities have had running schools. Jonathan argues that, despite early problems, universities should not be deterred from helping to run schools. It is in universities interests to be engaged with schools - future undergraduates, future academic staff and all other staff that universities depend on all come out of schools.
- Jonathan Simons on the World at One
03 July 2014
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, appears on BBC Radio 4's World at One to discuss proposals from the Sutton Trust to spend £215m on sending talented state pupils to independent schools. Jonathan argues that using the not-insignificant sum of money to help a relatively small number of pupils would not constitute the best use of government funding.
- Fresh Coalition row as Lib Dems clash with think tank over education spending
20 June 2014
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, is quoted in The Independent commenting on the Liberal Democrats's plans to ringfence £10bn of extra education spending. Jonathan notes that such a commitment will cost £2bn.
- Punishing traditional teaching has to stop
12 May 2014
Nick Gibb, Conservative MP, cites Policy Exchange's report, Watching the Watchmen, in his article for The Daily Telegraph warning that the new Ofsted chairman must eradicate the inspectorate's prescriptive attitude to teaching. The report finds that many schools are deterred from implementing major strategic change due to a fear of Ofsted judgement.
- Ofsted inspections: 'you'd be better off flipping a coin'
17 March 2014
The Telegraph covers Policy Exchange's recent report Watching the Watchmen. The report finds that judgments made by Ofsted inspectors are so unreliable, the results are worse than flipping a coin. It calls for the system of lesson observations to be abolished and replaced with one-day checks made on schools every two years.
- Ofsted inspectors 'lack key skills' required for job
17 March 2014
Policy Exchange's latest report Watching the Watchmen is covered by BBC News. The report finds that many Ofsted inspectors do not have the necessary skills to make fair judgment of schools. It calls for inspectors to have to pass an accreditation exam and have recent teaching experience in the kinds of schools they are assessing.
- E-Act chain loses control of 10 academy schools
25 February 2014
Jonathan Simons, Head of Education at Policy Exchange, is quoted by BBC News in the aftermath of the announcement that E-ACT is to lose control over a third of its schools. Jonathan states that, whilst he does not believe this case calls for schools to remain under local authority control, it is important that sponsor performance is scrutinised.
- Major chain of academies hands 10 schools back to the Department of Education after inspectors voice 'serious concerns' over education standards
25 February 2014
The Independent quotes Jonathan Simons, Head of Education at Policy Exchange, commenting after it was announced that E-ACT is going to lose control over 10 of its schools. Jonathan states that academy sponsors should not be immune from the high expectations that Government should have for all institutions.
- Ofsted 'wrong to pressure schools to link teacher pay with student performance'
16 February 2014
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, is quoted by the TES criticising Ofsted's encouragment of schools to link teacher pay solely with student performance, when DfE quidance clearly suggests other factors such as impact on wider outcomes for pupils should also be taken into account.
- Performance Pay - What am I bid for this teacher?
14 February 2014
TES quotes Jonathan Simons, Head of Education at Policy Exchange, saying that teachers are demanding increasingly higher salaries and that students should be allowed some say in setting their pay.
- Is Michael Gove correct that the private and state school gap has narrowed significantly?
05 February 2014
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, writes in City A.M. taking the 'Yes' viewpoint on the question "Is Michael Gove correct that the private and state school gap has narrowed significantly?". Jonathan argues that state schools are showing that amazing things can be done with less money and a more diverse intake.
- Does Michael Gove think he can extend school hours through sheer force of personality?
04 February 2014
The New Statesman cites a blog by Policy Exchange Head of Education Jonathan Simons which showed that, under the previous Labour Government, although three-quarters of extended schools offered childcare funded by parental charges, two-thirds still had to rely on school funds to fully support the service.
- Jonathan Simons on The World Tonight
03 February 2014
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, appears on BBC Radio 4's The World Tonight alongside Fiona Millar to discuss Michael Gove's announcement that he wants state schools to be as good as private schools.
- Jonathan Simons on BBC Radio London
30 January 2014
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, discusses extended school hours on BBC Radio London. Jonathan highlights the opportunity longer school hours provide for more people with young children to enter employment, rather than having to make a choice between looking after their children themselves or working and having to pay for childcare.
- Teachers may earn £70,000 after five years
03 January 2014
The Telegraph covers Policy Exchange's new report Reversing the 'Widget Effect' in a front page article. The report welcomes the new performance-related pay scheme for English teachers and showed that the best teachers could earn £70,000 after 5-8 years in the profession.
- Ignore Margaret Hodge and the BBC – free schools are working
11 December 2013
In an article for the Spectator, Elizabeth Truss, Minister for Childcare, praises Jonathan Simons, Head of Education at Policy Exchange's blog in response to the NAO's report on free schools. Both Elizabeth and Jonathan argue that the many positive points in the NAO's report have unfairly gone largely overlooked.
- Jonathan Simons on BBC 5Live
17 October 2013
Jonathan Simons, Head of Education at Policy Exchange appears on BBC 5Live to discuss the Ofsted report into the Al Madinah free school. Jonathan argues that supporters and detractors of free schools need to be just as vocal in their criticisms when free schools fail, but that one cannot draw conclusions across the board from this single example.
- Michael Gove under pressure to tighten monitoring as Al-Madinah free school is labelled as 'dysfunctional'
17 October 2013
Following the release of Ofsted's damning report into the Al Madinah free school, Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education comments that free schools must be subject to the same system of clear accountability as all other publicly-funded schools.
- Jonathan Simons on BBC Sussex
17 October 2013
Jonathan Simons, Head of Education at Policy Exchange, appeared on BBC Sussex to discuss the teachers' strikes across the country. Jonathan argued that it is difficult to understand what the unions hope to gain as the strike is massively inconvenient and these changes are already widespread throughout the private sector.
- No such thing as a free school lunch? What parents think of Nick Clegg's plans
19 September 2013
In an article exploring parents' reactions to Nick Clegg's recent announcement that all under sevens are to receive free school meals, The Independent quotes Jonathan Simons, Head of Education at Policy Exchange who thinks money would be better spent on increasing the pupil premium for the poorest children.
- 6 observations from today’s A Level results
18 August 2016
Jonathan Simons, Head of Education & Arts, looks beyond the headlines at six things to take away from this year's A-Level results.
- The Future Outlook for Primary Schools
08 June 2016
Jonathan Simons considers what opportunities the growth of MATs means for primary schools and primary teachers.
- Let our kids be kids - by not striking
03 May 2016
Jonathan Simons argues that parents who have taken their children out of school today in protest at the SATs are misguided and are harming children
- Schools and the housing market
20 April 2016
Policy Exchange's Education Unit examines the relationship between house prices and school quality.
- Universal Academisation – what needs to happen? Part 2
30 March 2016
In the second of a two part blog, Jonathan Simons sets out wider system changes that the government ought to make alongside converting every school to an Academy.
- Universal Academisation – what needs to happen? Part 1
30 March 2016
Following the government’s commitment to universal Academisation, Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, sets out what role parents should play in the governance of Academies
- The case for universal Academisation
21 March 2016
Following the Budget announcement that all schools will become Academies, Jonathan Simons sets out the case in support of that objective
- Ten quick thoughts on the schools fair funding consultation
08 March 2016
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, examines the DfE’s consultation that begins the long awaited move to a national funding formula for schools from 2017.
- How to solve the 'teacher recruitment crisis'
04 March 2016
In an article for The Telegraph, Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education and James Darley, Executive Director of Graduate Recruitment, Teach First discuss ways in which to tackle the teacher recruitment crisis.
- What pupil factors should a new national funding formula include?
01 February 2016
In an essay for NAHT, Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, sets out some issues to consider when DfE are designing the new national funding formula.
- Apprenticeship requirement means a challenge for large schools and chains
27 January 2016
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, argues that the 3 million Apprenticeship target is well intentioned but threatens to place a burden on large schools and Academy chains.
- Let’s stop eulogising democratic accountability
18 December 2015
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, debunks the argument that local democratic pressures exerted on councils force them to hold schools to account for their performance. Jonathan shows that in reality, in 16 of the lowest performing areas in the country for education, the parties controlling those councils were actually more likely to hold or increase their council majority than to lose control.
- The promise of tech must not make us forget what we already know works in education
10 December 2015
Following a roundtable at Google Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, warns against the approach to education that some tech evangelists are adopting. He rejects calls to move away from knowledge into skills, moving away from academic exams and simply focusing on what employers want, and stresses the importance instead of getting smart, skilled people interested in teaching.
- Why the spending review should shift money from universities to further education
19 October 2015
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, sets out the challenges facing England's Further Education sector and the recommendations from new report Higher, Further, Faster, More to help overcome them.
- Play hard, work hard
02 October 2015
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, looks ahead at the challenges facing the higher education sector, including: a tightening of funding during the spending review; a re-emergence of tuition fees as a political issue and the potential effects of Brexit on international students.
- Why the disadvantaged have been education reform’s biggest winners
14 August 2015
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, discusses how the reforms to the education system since 2010, particularly improvements to the curriculum and exam system, have improved prospects for disadvantaged pupils.
- Six key facts for A Level results day
13 August 2015
As A Level students across the country find out their results today, Policy Exchange's Head of Education Jonathan Simons sets out the success story behind improved universities funding and access.
- “The greatest scientists are artists as well”: A response to the RSA
12 August 2015
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, has today written a blog in response to Matthew Taylor, the head of the RSA, and his assertion in the Telegraph that many Russell Group universities cannot be 'creative'.
- Additional Policy Exchange analysis of Summer Budget 2015
13 July 2015
Policy Exchange takes a more detailed look at the Summer Budget, including: the impact of the Living Wage; the reduced pace of departmental spending cuts; the fundamental shift in welfare policy; what awaits Housing Associations; and the impact of changes to energy levies.
- What is a coasting school? An answer
30 June 2015
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, sets out how the government's new measure for coasting schools is likely to work in practice.
- What is a coasting school?
20 May 2015
On the back of announcements by Nicky Morgan last weekend, Policy Exchange's Head of Education Jonathan Simons considers which schools the government may be about to classify as coasting and in need of further attention.
- Priorities for the new BIS team
13 May 2015
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, sets out the priorities facing the new BIS team. He lists higher education (including shifting fees and the future of international students), science, further education and skills as their top priorities.
- Schools policy challenges after the election
30 April 2015
In a blog based on a speech he made earlier today, Policy Exchange's Head of Education Jonathan Simons discusses the policy challenges facing schools after the election. Jonathan argues that the closeness of the election will make it difficult to enact significant education reforms.
- Now we have new evidence about Free Schools. And it shows that they’re working.
09 March 2015
Jonathan Simons, Head of Education at Policy Exchange, sets out the findings from A Rising Tide, our new report that takes the first detailed look at the impact of Free Schools. The report shows that Free Schools have a positive influence on the results of underperforming local schools.
- There is no evidence cutting tuition fees will increase university applications
27 February 2015
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, looks at the Labour claim that £9,000 a year tuition fees are putting prospective students off going to university. Jonathan argues that cutting tuition fees would have no appreciable effect on entrance rates, serving only to benefit mostly male higher earners decades from now.
- Academies after 2015
02 February 2015
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, sets out the three questions the government will need to answer in order to effectively implement today's announcement from the Prime Minister that "coasting" schools will be forced to accept new leadership.
- Premier League
30 January 2015
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, examines three questions raised by the recent debate on the new format school league tables: does it matter if well known public schools reside at the bottom of the table; does it matter if we can't truly compare 2013 and 2014 results; and does it matter if league tables only give a partial picture of performance?
- 5 reasons why a return to grammar schools is a bad idea
05 December 2014
Natasha Porter and Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Deputy Head and Head of Education, argue that – contrary to what the backers of more grammar schools say – selective education was actually bad for social mobility. They show that grammar schools left behind those who did not attend them in terms of both grades and pay, that grammar schools take fewer poor students and that they did not necessarily provide a good education.
- A tale of two education announcements
17 October 2014
Policy Exchange's Head of Education, Jonathan Simons, contrasts recent announcements on education policy from the Labour and Conservative Parties. Jonathan sets out how the varied reactions to these announcements provide an interesting illustration as to the current state of education political communications.
- The Future of Sure Start
11 August 2014
Policy Exchange's Head of Education, Jonathan Simons, writes welcoming Lucy Powell MP's sensible position on Sure Start centres. Jonathan highlights how the proposals mirror calls from Policy Exchange's Centres of Excellence? report, looking at how to improve children's centres at a time when money is tight.
- Materials and momentum: why the Coalition has been so focussed on curriculum and assessment changes
27 June 2014
This blog is a summary of the remarks that Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, gave to the Wellington Festival of Education. Jonathan calls for the creation of new centres of power to drive change in education and challenge current dominant beliefs held within the system.
- Who do parents go to, if they have a problem with their child’s school?
12 June 2014
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, tackles Ed Miliband's recent question at PMQs as to who parents go to if they have a problem with their child's school.
- Watching the Watchmen - an update
31 March 2014
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, responds to comments made following our recent report on Ofsted, Watching the Watchmen, and reflects on Sir Michael Wilshaw's speech at the ASCL Conference. Jonathan reiterates some of the recommendations of the report, such as the need to maintain lesson observations in certain cases. In addition, he calls for more transparency and for schools to be given more power over decision-making.
- When Tatler publishes a list of the top state schools, you know the gap is closing
07 February 2014
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, analyses Michael Gove's recent speech in which he said that he wanted to "break down the Berlin wall between state schools and independent schools." Jonathan argues that Gove was making the point that many state schools show what amazing things can be done with less money and a more diverse intake.
- Two cheers for UCAS figures
01 February 2014
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, offers some observations and a couple of questions on the recent UCAS figures showing that university applications are up among the most disadvantaged and relatively static for the most advantaged.
- A Licence to Teach
14 January 2014
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, writes advocating a 'licence to teach', an external mark of professional quality, indicating an ongoing commitment to professional development and mastery of practice.
- Paying first-class teachers what they are worth is way to educate Yorkshire
13 January 2014
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, highlights how performance-related pay will improve the quality of teaching by attracting more high flying graduates and encouraging the professional development of teachers. The effects of performance-related pay on the teaching profession were explored by Policy Exchange recently in our report Reversing the 'Widget Effect'.
- Performance pay won't lead to teachers hoarding resources or refusing to collaborate for fear of losing out
03 January 2014
Jonathan Simons, Head of Education at Policy Exchange, writes backing the introduction of performance-related pay (PRP) for English teachers. Simons shows that, despite what teachers' unions might say, teachers overwhelmingly want to be paid on the quality of their teaching, that it is possibly to measure teacher effectiveness, and that PRP has demonstrably improved pupil outcomes. He does, however, stress the hard work that schools will have to put in to designing systems that are reliable, have credibility with teachers and reward collaboration and pupil progress.
- 12 reasons why the NAO's report is a boost for free schools
11 December 2013
Following the publication of the National Audit Office's report on Free Schools, Jonathan Simons, Head of Education at Policy Exchange, argues that much of the coverage of the report has been ideologically motivated and ignored the general tone of the report. In response, Jonathan highlights 12 positive findings from the report.
- PISA 2013 and English Schools - First impressions
03 December 2013
Jonathan Simons, Head of Education at Policy Exchange responds to the publication of the PISA 2013 figures which compare literacy and numeracy for 15 year-olds across the OECD. Jonathan argues that there is much to learn from other countries, including those that use performance-related-pay to drive up standards.
- Re-Extending Schools
19 November 2013
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, examines Ed Miliband's recent childcare speech. Jonathan welcomes the fleshing out of Labour's commitments in this area, but argues there are still real questions as to the practicalities of they will implement free childcare measures and wraparound primary school care to give parents a concrete offer for their children and reassure schools that this will not turn into a bureaucratic exercise.
- Nick Clegg's Alternative Speech
24 October 2013
Jonathan Simons, Head of Education at Policy Exchange imagines what Nick Clegg should have said in his speech on education today. Jonathan examines the progress on education the Lib Dems have made in Coalition and finds that they have a strong story to tell.
- Lessons from Al-Madinah - What we can and can't learn
17 October 2013
Following Ofsted's investigation into the Derby free school Al Madinah, Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education argues that while there are wider lessons to learn from this failure, particularly in implementation, it cannot be used to condemn the principle of the free school programme.
- A new Labour position on free schools
13 October 2013
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, examines new shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt's policy on free schools. Jonathan praises Hunt's approach, which is supportive, but notes three key details to watch for: how Labour define the "areas of need" they want new schools to operate in, planning issues for new schools and whether or not free schools will retain their preferred status when a local authority is seeking a new school.
- In public policy, relative priority matters - will new data from Save the Children mean we see a greater focus on primary schooling?
08 October 2013
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, comments on new data from Save the Children showing that 78% of the difference in attainment recorded in literacy and numeracy at age 16 is already present at age 7. Jonathan notes the significiant pivot from the organisation from their previous focus on living standards to the schools space, and asks whether this might see policymakers likewise refocus their efforts to this area.
- No such thing as a free lunch?
18 September 2013
Policy Exchange's recently appointed Head of Education, Jonathan Simons, responds to the Lib Dem's announcement that all five - seven year olds will receive free school meals from next year. Jonathan argues that although there are some benefits attained from more children eating school lunches, the £600m cost of this scheme could be better spent increasing the pupil premium to provide better quality education to the most deprived youngsters.
- The importance of teaching
05 September 2013
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange's Head of Education, examines Michael Gove's recent speech to Policy Exchange on 'The Importance of Teaching'. Jonathan notes how the teaching force is becoming less homogenous and increasingly differs in its views on education reform to those held by trade union leaders and the 'education establishment'. Gove may well find that talking over the heads of the self proclaimed intermediaries means he needn’t expend so much effort attacking future rounds of union strikes and some findings of ‘progressive’ academics.
Related Press Release
- New research: Working women are quitting teaching for good
04 March 2016
The Importance of Teachers, a joint Policy Exchange and ASCL paper, looks at the challenges of recruiting and retaining teachers and argues for more flexible working practices.