Once again the IOE has come top of the QS World University rankings.

For the ninth year in a row, the IOE has been ranked number one for Education in the annual QS World University Rankings by subject. This is quite an achievement for Professor Li Wei, Director and Dean, Institute of Education (IOE), UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society.

Head of the lists for Universities is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, followed by Oxford, England and then Stanford, USA. The six criteria used to arrive at the rankings are:

  • Academic Reputation
  • Employer Reputation
  • Faculty/Student Ratio
  • Citations per faculty
  • International Faculty Ratio
  • International Student Ratio

This differs vastly from the way schools are ranked in England, where public examination results are referenced against student progress and OFSTED reports.

The IOE has enjoyed considerable recent success, in particular with the Centre for Educational Leadership under Qing Gu and her team. Of particular note were their high ratings for their Department for Education-funded programme designed to develop teachers in the early years of their careers. They deliver the programme with a growing number of Teaching School hubs. Success has also been achieved in the bidding round for the National Qualifications for Leadership, which secured the continuing delivery of the programmes originally devised by Dame Pat Collarbone, the first Director of the Centre for Educational Leadership. This has previously been featured in this journal.

Recent developments at the IOE include progress in the latest government bidding rounds for teacher training. They have moved to the next phase; however many of the other traditional University providers have either not applied or have been unsuccessful in this round. This represents a continuation of the ongoing shift since the 1990s, from mainly university-based providers to school-based.

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations were accompanied by the Birthday Honours List, on which were two of our distinguished colleagues. The first was Christine Gilbert, formerly Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools, who became a Dame. She already holds a CBE and is a visiting professor at the IOE.

Dame Christine’s think piece for the Centre for Education Leadership at the IOE was recently referenced in this journal. She has made a tireless contribution to education in England in her numerous roles, which have included headteacher, Director of Education for Tower Hamlets and Chief Inspector of Schools from 2006-2011.

Dame Christine was also very supportive of our work on the London Challenge and the development of Teaching Schools. While she was Chief Inspector, I chaired a headteacher advisory board to consider how school-to-school work could be integrated within the inspection framework.

Later, she invited our colleague Dame Sue John to join her in working to transform schools in Knowsley, an urban area in the North West of England.  Her personal advice at times when I found myself wading deeply in the treacle of public service has been very welcome.

The second colleague to be recognised is Lee Mason-Ellis, the Chief Executive of The Pioneer Academy Trust who was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s Jubilee Birthday Honours list. Richard Lockyer, Chief Executive of OLEVI and his team have worked  with Lee and his colleagues for many years.

Richard said: “Lee started The Pioneer Academy, in 2011, with the prime objective of providing children with the highest standards of care, guidance and education.  He has worked tirelessly in developing a family of fourteen primary schools of over 5,000 pupils in South East London, Kent, Surrey and Brighton.  In these schools he promotes outstanding teaching and learning by actively encouraging creativity and innovation.

“Under Lee’s leadership, the Trust has a proven track record of significant and impressive school improvement that has been validated by Ofsted. This has been achieved by developing a culture that ensures the Trust’s staff of nearly 750 receive unwavering support and first class, continuous, professional development. In an environment that promotes the very best pupil behaviour, wellbeing and attendance, The Pioneer children feel safe and happy at school.

“Lee also supports and mentors the CEOs of other Multi-Academy Trusts and has frequently spoken at RSC, NAHT and Governor Services conferences.  This has been provided free of charge as he strongly believes that morally this is the ‘right thing to do’.  His leading-edge solutions are willingly shared with other CEOs, such as a primary-focussed Integrated curriculum and a financial planning tool, which enables school leaders to ensure value for money and efficient use of funding.

“At Lee’s behest, ‘Nurture Rooms’ have been introduced into many Pioneer schools to help the most vulnerable children to cope with social, emotional and mental health issues.

“The majority of schools that Lee brings into the Trust are in deprived communities where children need the greatest support to secure the best life chances.  He does not shy away from the complex challenges of improving these failing schools and actively encourages whole family engagement through, for instance, holding free community Christmas dinners.

Lee has also recently driven a van full of humanitarian aid to Ukraine, a journey he documented in the TES in April 2022. The trip was sponsored by children, parents, carers and staff in the trust.

We realise that such awards are the result of a team effort but there is no denying the incredible contribution that both recipients of the birthday honours have made to education in England. We congratulate them both.

Take care and stay safe