Our People

Meet the team and advisory board of RISE

Our People

The RISE Team

Lord David Willets

CO-CHAIR

Lord Willets is a former Universities Minister, renowned and respected for his work in the education sector, and has written widely on economic and social policy having previously worked at HM Treasury and the No. 10 Policy Unit.

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Prof. George E Holmes

VICE CHANCELLOR, UNIVERSITY OF BOLTON

When appointed to the post of Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of the university in 2005, George became the youngest university head in the UK. He has been at the university now for over 12 years and holds a Doctorate in the field of Education. In 2002 he was appointed by the then Secretary of State for Education as advisor to the Department.

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Prof. David Hopkins

EDUCATION POLICY LEAD

David is currently Chair of Educational Leadership at the University of Bolton, as well as being Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Education, University College London and the University of Nottingham. Previous roles include: Chief Adviser to three Secretary of States on School Standards in the UK, Dean of Education at the University of Nottingham.

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Ed Barker

HEAD OF COMMUNICATIONS

Ed is an experienced and well-connected political adviser and campaigns consultant. He has spent his career managing various senior MPs’ Westminster offices, placing many agenda-setting national stories, writing articles for several of today’s cabinet ministers and serving as Director of Communications for Esther McVey in her leadership campaign before helping the communications team on the Back Boris campaign.

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Simon Blagden CBE

CO-CHAIR

Simon is the non-executive Chairman of Fujitsu with 30 years business experience in the IT and Telecoms industry. He was appointed MBE in 1997 for services to export and was appointed CBE in 2016 for services to the economy.

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Andrea Jenkyns MP

DIRECTOR & HEAD OF CENTRE

Andrea is the Member of Parliament for Morley and Outwood. In her late-thirties, she decided to re-train and enrolled in a degree in International Relations and Politics from the University of Lincoln as well as a diploma in Economics from the Open University. Andrea is currently the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for the Ministry for Housing, Communities and the Local Government.

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Prof. Sonia Blandford

SOCIAL MOBILITY POLICY LEAD

Sonia is visiting professor of education at UCL Institute of Education. She has held leadership positions including Director of Research and Leadership at Teach First and Professor of Educational Leadership and Innovation at the University of Warwick. She authored ‘Born to Fail?: Social Mobility and the Working Class’.

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George Foote

SENIOR RESEARCH ASSOCIATE

George recently graduated form Imperial College London with a degree in Biochemistry. After spending some time teaching science and maths in a British International school in Beijing, he returned to the UK. He worked as parliamentary advisor to two Members of Parliament before joining RISE as Senior Research Associate.

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Advisory Board

Meet the RISE advisory board

Lord David Willets

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Simon Blagden CBE

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Andrea Jenkyns MP

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William Rogers MBE

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Prof. Mohammed Abel-Haq

Caroline Cowburn

Tim Openshaw