Insight event - Raising attainment, improving access, securing success

An event to explore the shared challenges and opportunities faced by schools, colleges, universities and third sector organisations as they work together to raise attainment and improve opportunities.

Watch the event:

Part one: morning session - 1000 to 1115

Part two: morning session - 1135 to 1230

Part three: afternoon session - 1325 to 1500

Read the insight brief See our guide to schools and universities

Event programme

0930 Registration, refreshments and networking


  • Lord James Wharton, Chair, Office for Students

Keynote Going up-river together: How school-university partnership can close the attainment gap

  • John Blake, Director for Fair Access and Participation, Office for Students

Case study discussion – Effective practice: Findings from South Yorkshire Futures (SYF) partnership

  • Greg Burke, Director of Place and Civic Engagement, Sheffield Hallam University

Keynote – Shared perspectives: Forging a common vision on education between schools and the higher education sector

  • Amanda Spielman, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Ofsted
1115 Break

What works? Challenges and opportunities in taking an evidence-informed approach

  • Dr Omar Khan, Director, TASO (Centre for Transforming Access and Student Outcomes in Higher Education) (Panel chair)
  • Dr Claire Crawford, Associate Professor, UCL Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities
  • Prof Becky Francis, CEO, The Education Endowment Foundation
  • Angela Kail, Director of Consulting, New Philanthropy Capital
  • Susie Whigham, Interim CEO, The Brilliant Club
1230 Lunch and networking

Keynote – Lessons from America

  • Dr Jason R Klugman, Senior Director, College Preparation Initiatives and Director, Princeton University Preparatory Program and Anna Cabrera, Assistant Director for Family Engagement, Princeton University Preparatory Program (PUPP)

Myth busting: How can we support schools?

  • Natalie Perera, Chief Executive, Education Policy Institute (Panel chair)
  • Sally Burtonshaw, Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer, London Higher
  • Matt Jones OBE, Executive Principal, Ark Globe Academy and Chair, The Elephant Group
  • John Laramy CBE, Principal and Chief Executive of Exeter College
  • Prof Sean McNamara, Principal/CEO, The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts

Closing remarks

  • John Blake, Director for Fair Access and Participation, Office for Students
1500 Networking
1530 Close


Chair of the Office for Students (OfS)

Lord Wharton was made a life peer in September 2020 and was, until recently, the Chair of Hume Brophy UK Communications.

He was elected as an MP in 2010 and served as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development from July 2016 to June 2017, and as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government, with responsibility for Local Growth and the Northern Powerhouse, from May 2015 until July 2016. Prior to that he worked as a solicitor.

Director for Fair Access and Participation, OfS

John Blake is the Director for Fair Access and Participation. His role is to ensure universities and colleges are doing all they can to support learners from all backgrounds, especially the most disadvantaged, to access and succeed in higher education.

John took up his position at the Office for Students in January 2022. Prior to joining the OfS, he was a senior leader and researcher in the schools sector, leading on public affairs and curriculum research and design for Ark, policy and strategy for Now Teach, and History initial teacher education for the Harris Federation. He has also worked as Head of Education and Social Reform for the think tank Policy Exchange, was a founder governor of Oak National Academy, and served as an adviser to the government on reforms to initial teacher training and continuing professional development.

Director of Place and Civic Engagement, Sheffield Hallam University

Greg Burke has spent most of his career working as a policy civil servant. He has worked in a wide range of roles in central government which have included both policy and delivery. He has operated at both the national and regional level, working on a range of education policy. He has wide experience of delivery in a complex political environment.

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Ofsted

Amanda Spielman has been Ofsted Chief Inspector since 2017. She was previously chair of the exam regulator Ofqual from 2011 to 2016, and a founding member of the leadership team at the multi-academy trust Ark Schools. Before that she spent more than 15 years in strategy consulting, finance and investment. She is a trustee of the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Director, TASO (Centre for Transforming Access and Student Outcomes in Higher Education)

Dr Omar Khan joined TASO in June 2020. He has led TASO’s transition into an independent charity, developing its team and strategy to widen participation in higher education and eliminate equality gaps between students.

Omar joined TASO from race equality think tank the Runnymede Trust, where he had been director since 2014, growing the organisation and increasing its profile. Prior to this, Omar was Head of Policy at the Runnymede Trust and led its financial inclusion programme.

Omar holds several advisory positions: chair of the Ethnicity Strand Advisory Group to Understanding Society, trustee of the Political Studies Association and of the Barrow Cadbury Trust, and a member of the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF) and 2014 REF assessments. Omar was previously a governor at the University of East London, commissioner on the Financial Inclusion Commission and a 2012 Clore Social Leadership Fellow.

Associate Professor, UCL Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities

Dr Claire Crawford is an Associate Professor of Economics in the UCL Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities and a Research Fellow of the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Claire’s research focuses on the determinants and consequences of education participation and educational attainment in both childhood and adulthood, with a focus on higher education. She is particularly interested in understanding inequalities in these outcomes and how policy can help reduce these gaps.

Claire is a member of the Department for Education’s Skills and Productivity Board and has a strong track record of high impact research, including giving evidence to the House of Commons Education Select Committee and the House of Lords Select Committee on Social Mobility. Her work on higher education access and contextualised admissions was submitted as an impact case study to REF2021 by the University of Warwick.

CEO, the Education Endowment Foundation

Professor Becky Francis is chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation. She was previously director of the UCL Institute of Education (IOE). Her prior roles include Professor of Education and Social Justice at King’s College London, Director of Education at the RSA and Standing Advisor to the Parliamentary Education Select Committee. She is the inaugural Yidan Global Fellow at Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a Fellow of the British Academy.

Becky has spearheaded high-profile research programmes assessing the impact of major reforms in the English school system on educational inequalities. Becky’s academic expertise and extensive publications centre on social identities and inequalities in educational contexts. She is best known for her body of research on social identities and educational attainment, including gender, race and social class.

Director of Consulting, New Philanthropy Capital

Angela leads the Research and Consulting team at New Philanthropy Capital, a think tank working to make the charity sector more effective. The team supports and partners with organisations to help them articulate their purpose, manage outcomes, understand their impact and learn.

Over the years at NPC, Angela has worked on a wide variety of consulting projects with both charities and funders. She is passionate about how the charity sector can help improve young people's prospects. She has written reports on education charities and helped advise philanthropists about how the charity sector can work to drive up attainment and improve young people's access to universities.

Interim CEO, The Brilliant Club

Susie Whigham is currently interim CEO at The Brilliant Club while Anne-Marie Canning is on maternity leave. As Chief Programmes and Communities Officer, Susie leads the development and implementation of programmes which support underrepresented students to progress to the most competitive universities and succeed when they are there.

Prior to this, Susie was Executive Director of Services at School-Home Support where she led a range of programmes tackling the barriers to learning within the home. Susie chaired the National Home School Development Group and led Unlocking Potential, an initiative to engage parents in their child’s learning, in partnership with the Mayor’s Fund for London.

Susie started her career on the first cohort of Teach First, where she taught English in a London secondary school and worked as a Literacy Consultant for the DfE’s National Strategies programme.

Senior Director, College Preparation Initiatives;
Director, Princeton University Preparatory Program (PUPP)

Dr Klugman joined Princeton in 2004 to lead PUPP and also served as a Lecturer and Program Associate in Princeton’s Program in Teacher Preparation from 2004 to 2017. He occasionally teaches in Princeton’s Department of Anthropology and serves as an advisor to Education Cohort of the Service Focus Initiative in Princeton’s Pace Center for Civic Engagement. He is the recipient of the 2015 John B. Muir Editor’s Award from the National Association of College Admission Counseling for outstanding contribution to the Journal of College Admission.

From 2001-2004, Jason was a high school history teacher at West Philadelphia High School and a leader in that school’s college and career guidance team. Jason earned his doctorate in Education, Culture and Society from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education where he also earned his Master of Arts in Secondary Education. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University.

Assistant Director for Family Engagement, Princeton University Preparatory Program (PUPP)

Anna R Cabrera was recently promoted to become the inaugural Assistant Director of Family Engagement within the College Preparation Initiatives unit in the Emma Bloomberg Center for Access and Opportunity at Princeton University. Her work is focused on empowering and supporting students and families connected to the center's core programming. A native Spanish speaker, Anna provides translation and first-language support to many PUPP families. In her new role, she will expand her focus on family engagement to other programs in the center, including the families of the university's first-generation/low-income community.

A proud Trenton Central High School graduate, Anna is a member of the first cohort of PUPP Scholars (the Class of 2004). She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business from The College of New Jersey, and holds a Master of Arts in organizational leadership with a focus on higher education from Rider University.

Chief Executive, Education Policy Institute

Natalie Perera is chief executive of the Education Policy Institute, an independent research institute which she co-founded in 2016.

Prior to that, Natalie worked in the Department for Education where she led on research and policy interventions, including on narrowing the gap between disadvantaged children and the rest and reform of the school funding system. Between 2014 and 2015, Natalie was seconded to the Cabinet Office where she worked in the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office.

Natalie is also a director of a Multi-Academy Trust in south London and a trustee of charities the Fair Education Alliance and Causeway Education.

Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer, London Higher

Sally Burtonshaw is the Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer at London Higher, representing over 40 London universities and higher education colleges. She oversees the organisation’s diverse range of networks and represents members across a range of policy issues.

Previously, Sally has worked specifically on access and participation policy at fair access charity, The Brilliant Club. Sally’s Economic and Social Research Council-funded PhD at UCL examines the relationships between schools and universities in supporting progression to higher education. Before moving to London, Sally was responsible for progression to higher education at Dyke House College in Hartlepool, during which time she created and implemented a whole-institution approach to university progression which ran from Year 4 to Year 13.

Executive Principal, Ark Globe Academy and Chair, The Elephant Group

Matt Jones OBE was appointed as principal of Ark Globe Academy in 2012, an all through academy for 3-18 year olds. In 2019 he was appointed as executive principal of Evelyn Grace Academy, a secondary school in south London. Matt became the chair of the Southwark Association of Secondary Headteachers (SASH) in 2015, where he addresses local issues within secondary schools.

In 2018 Matt founded the headteacher-led charity, The Elephant Group. The organisation aims to ensure fair access for non-selective state school students into the UK’s top third universities. Matt now chairs the board.

In 2019 Matt joined the Premier League’s Education Advisory Board, which sets out to provide the league with the most up-to-date educational research and support.

Matt joined the board of trustees of Shakespeare’s Globe theatre in 2021. The group provide direction to promote and improve the understanding and enjoyment of all aspects of the dramatic art.

Principal and Chief Executive of Exeter College

John Laramy is principal and chief executive of Exeter College, an Ofsted outstanding, award-winning tertiary college with a turnover of £50m.

John was appointed as principal and CEO at the beginning of 2016. Prior to this, he was vice principal. In total, John has been at Exeter College for over 12 years. John completed his PGCE in post-compulsory education in 1996 and joined North Devon College in 1997 as a lecturer, progressing through various roles before joining the senior leadership team in 2004.

John was the founding director of the Ted Wragg Multi-Academy Trust and a founding chair of the Exeter Specialist Mathematics School. Both organisations are highly successful partnerships between the University of Exeter and Exeter College.

In 2018, John became a non-executive director of Pearson Education Limited. John sits on a national steering group for executive education in further education, a collaborative between the Education and Training Foundation and the Oxford Said Business School. In 2019, John became a director of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership.

John holds a BSc (Hons) in construction management from the University of the West of England and an MSc in educational leadership from the University of Leicester. He is a full member of the Chartered Institute of Building. John was awarded a CBE in the 2021 New Year’s Honours in recognition of his contribution to the education sector.

Principal and CEO, the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts

Sean McNamara is principal and CEO of the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. He was previously head of the Guildford School of Acting at the University of Surrey, where he led on key initiatives including restructuring the organisation and innovating the programme portfolio, including the introduction of Master of Fine Arts programmes in acting and musical theatre and an MA in theatre (online & distance learning).

Sean is chair of the UK’s professional body for conservatoire training, the Federation of Drama Schools, a founding member of the Alliance of Musical Theatre Conservatoires and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Internationally, he was project director and member of the steering committee for the establishment of the Sharjah Performing Arts Academy in the emirate of Sharjah in the UAE.

Published 07 February 2022
Last updated 19 April 2022
19 April 2022
Recordings from the event have been published.
31 March 2022
Added details of the speakers.
25 March 2022
Updates to the programme
11 February 2022
Places are fully booked to attend this event in person.

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