As part of our celebration event, we will be holding a panel discussion featuring some leading figures in the education world. David Bell will chair the discussion while John Fairhurst, Brett Wigdortz, Honor Wilson-Fletcher and Alastair Wilson will be talking about how we can best equip young people to succeed after they leave school.

David Bell (Chair), Permanent Secretary, Department for Education (DfE)

David Bell holds two degrees from the University of Glasgow, a PGCE from Jordanhill College of Education and honorary degrees from the University of Strathclyde and De Montford University. He has also been a Harkness Fellow at Georgia State University, Atlanta.

David taught in Glasgow and held deputy and headteacher posts in Essex. He then spent ten years at Newcastle City Council, five of which were as Director of Education and Libraries. David was Chief Executive of Bedfordshire County Council for two years before being appointed as HM Chief Inspector of Schools in May 2002.

In January 2006, David became Permanent Secretary at the Department for Education and Skills before becoming the Permanent Secretary at the Department for Children, Schools and Families in June 2007. With the advent of the Coalition Government in May 2010, David was confirmed in post as Permanent Secretary at the Department for Education.

Brett Wigdortz, Founder & CEO of Teach First

Brett Wigdortz has led Teach First as its CEO since its launch in July 2002. He wrote the original business plan for the charity while working as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company and then took what was originally planned as a six-month leave of absence in February 2002 to develop and build support for the idea.

He currently serves as a trustee of PEAS (Promoting Equality in African Schools) and Future Leaders, which recruits and trains the next generation of outstanding headteachers for challenging urban secondary schools. He is also the co-founder, president and a trustee of Teach For All, an organisation created in partnership with Teach For America to help other countries start and share best practices among similar programmes and create a global network of leaders dedicated to addressing educational disadvantage. He was recently named the 2007 UK Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year and the 2010 CASE (Council for the Advancement and Support of Education) European Leadership Award.

John Fairhurst, President of ASCL

John Fairhurst is President of ASCL (the Association of School and College Leaders), having been last year’s Vice-President and its Chair for Education before that, reflecting his interest in Teaching, Learning and Assessment issues. He advocates, in particular, the need to embed employability skills into the mainstream curriculum.

John has been Headteacher of Shenfield High School, Brentwood for over sixteen years. In that time the school has been extremely successful and has expanded from having a student body of around 900 to an expected 1600 next September. It places particular emphasis on Business and Enterprise: “Skills for Business… Skills for Life!”

Honor Wilson-Fletcher, Chief Executive of the Aldridge Foundation

Honor Wilson-Fletcher joined The Aldridge Foundation as its first Director in January 2010. Previously she was at the National Literacy Trust, where she was appointed as Director of the 2008 National Year of Reading. She was awarded an MBE for services to Education for her work in that role. She is now Chair of the Advisory Group and Trustee of the National Literary Trust.

Wilson-Fletcher has worked in the book trade in a variety of roles at Waterstone’s, Transworld, Hodder Children’s Books and Penguin before joining the British Museum as Head of Marketing, and then the Southbank Centre as Director of Marketing. She has worked with the Arts Council of England, the National Theatre, Booktrust, Poetry Book Society, The Edinburgh International Book Festival and The Reading Agency and is now a Member of the Public Programmes Committee for the Bishopsgate Institute. She previously acted as a judge for the Guardian Fiction Prize and the Orange Prize.

Alistair Wilson, Chief Executive of School for Social Entrepreneurs

Alistair Wilson is Chief Executive of the School for Social Entrepreneurs. Having worked extensively in the private sector, Alastair became a student of the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) in 1998. Having established and run his own project, he returned to SSE as Development Director and then CEO.

SSE’s core service is a year-long ‘action learning’ based programme supporting early-stage social entrepreneurs from a wide range of backgrounds. SSE also offers specialist shorter programmes e.g. Social Franchising, Public sector spin outs and Trading for growth. Over 500 have completed SSE programmes, and there are now 10 SSE franchises in the UK and overseas. Alastair is also a trustee of UnLtd (foundation for Social Entrepreneurs), London Funders, the Social Enterprise Coalition and the Sheila McKechnie Foundation.

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