Within a year of qualifying as a teacher I became an education civil servant, pursuing that line from 1983 until 2010.

From 1997 or thereabouts I specialised in developing and implementing what later became the national gifted and talented programme – and so became something of an expert in that field.

In 2010 I switched to freelance consultancy and writing, focusing on high attainment, fair access and gifted education. I introduced a social media alter ego – Gifted Phoenix – who blogged and tweeted on these issues, as well as wider aspects of national education policy.

I wanted to establish a reputation as an independent and objective commentator who wrote balanced, authoritative and detailed posts underpinned by careful analysis of the evidence base, especially the published data.

Tim Dracup

In summer 2015 I decided to ‘retire’ Gifted Phoenix after five years of intensive work. Partly this decision was born of frustration. I had hoped that consumers of my free services would be rather more willing to offer me paid employment as a quid pro quo. They weren’t.

I was ready to give up education entirely. This new blog was supposed to feature a variety of other personal interests, while also enabling me to indulge an abiding fascination with social media.

Then I was commissioned by the University of Oxford to review effective practice in widening participation and fair access. I began to write new posts on that topic as a way of keeping up to speed with the latest developments, but I also found myself with rather more to say about the schools sector too.

The relationship with Oxford is continuing, which hopefully means that I’ve been of some service. For the time being I’m dividing my blogging almost equally between educational topics and a handful of other interests:

Dracup Genealogy – I’ve been developing a family tree since 2010, confining myself exclusively to online evidence. Now I want to broaden my research methods, to focus more explicitly on the lives of individuals and the social history associated with them. I’m open to this becoming a collaborative venture with fellow Dracups (and ex-Dracups) contributing their own material.

Travelogue – I will be publishing some material about journeys and holidays featuring some of the photographs I take on them. I want to keep a record for my own reference while also communicating details useful to other travellers.

Photography – I need to take more and better pictures to illustrate this blog. The composition of photographs is what interests me most. Can I develop further the few skills I possess? Can I maintain high standards visually as well as verbally?

Writing – I flatter myself that I should be able to write decent poetry again, after a gap of a quarter of a century. The most complex structures have long been a personal interest. Will I ever manage to produce a passable sestina, or perhaps a villanelle? Short fiction might be worth a try.

Randomness – Anything else I feel stirred to write about. There is much that gets my goat, for I am after all an increasingly grumpy – and increasingly old – man.

In the fullness of time I will also try my hand at writing about literature and music..

Don’t expect a hive of activity. I’ll work at my own pace in the interstices between other priorities, crafting posts with care and attention to detail; publishing only when I’m ready.



June 2016


I do still take on occasional paid commissions. If you’d like to discuss an opportunity of this kind please use the contact form below.