Revealed: The 10 most influential figures in education in 2017

Who has been named as the inaugural Tes Person of the Year?

Martin George

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They are the people, campaigns and farmyard animals that have made a difference to education in England in 2017.

And this year, for the first time, Tes is recognising the 10 most influential figures in education this year.

The list includes union leaders who helped make school funding a top election issue, the leader of Britain’s “strictest school”, the chief inspector who is transforming perceptions of Ofsted, and a grassroots campaign to improve the ethnic and gender balance of education leaders.

But there can only be one Tes Person of the Year, and the inaugural winner is Russell Hobby (pictured below).


This was his seventh and final year as general secretary of the NAHT headteachers' union, and his part in securing a better deal on primary assessment for NAHT members – and schools – is a major reason for his accolade.

And now, as chief executive of Teach First, he will be a respected and influential voice when the key issues of teacher recruitment and retention, and improving social mobility, are under discussion.

When told about the accolade, Mr Hobby said: “I find it very surprising and not a little embarrassing. It’s a team that delivered on this, but it’s nice to be recognised and I’m very grateful.”

For him, primary assessment was “right at the top of our priorities”.

“I feel that we are halfway to where we should be,” he said, “but even getting halfway is a really important step and it opens the door to a better dialogue between the government and the profession and will make life better for children and teachers.”

And now, after three months getting to know Teach First from the inside, he has identified three priorities for 2018: do more work to get great teachers where they are most needed, do more to help teachers thrive when they are in place – and help more Teach First ambassadors take leadership roles in challenging areas, and help ensure the systems and communities around schools help them to succeed.

The shortlist

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders

David Benson, headteacher of Kensington Aldridge Academy

Katharine Birbalsingh, headteacher of Michaela Community School

Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, joint general secretaries of the National Education Union

Christine Counsell, director of education at the Inspiration Trust

Nick Gibb, school standards minister

Amanda Spielman, Ofsted chief inspector

The Varndean goats, of Varndean School

#WomenEd campaign against gender inequality

This is an edited article from the 22 December edition of Tes. Subscribers can read the full article hereTo subscribe, click hereThis week's Tes magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here

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Martin George

Martin George

Martin George is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @geomr

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