Shortly after qualifying as a teacher I began a long stint in national education policy-making, much of it devoted to supporting our most able learners.

In 2010 I switched to freelance consultancy and writing, specialising in 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.

He built 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. These old posts are still accessible.

After five years Gifted Phoenix returned to the ashes and I planned to retire from education. 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 new developments, but I also found I had rather more to say about the schools sector too.

By summer 2017 I had become increasingly disenchanted with progress in the fields I cared most about. My beloved wife Kate died in July 2017 after a year-long battle with cancer and I added some new content dedicated to her memory.

I am now rebuilding my life, struggling daily to ‘entertain the possibility’ that the best years of my life are still ahead. You should now consider me officially retired.

Expect fewer posts, mostly devoted to wider interests, especially Dracup Genealogy. I’ve been developing a family tree since 2010, confining myself exclusively to online evidence. Now I am broadening my research methods, to focus more explicitly on the lives of individuals and the social history associated with them.

There are more posts devoted to travelogue – especially walking, which has become much more important to me since Kate’s death and which I undertake with a new companion, Tracy.

I want to take more and better photographs to illustrate this blog. There will  be occasional experiments in creative writing, especially poetry.

Don’t expect a hive of activity. I’ll work at my own pace in the interstices between other priorities, publishing only when I’m ready.



Summer 2019


If you would like to discuss anything you read here, do please use the contact form below.


%d bloggers like this: