A new politics for transforming education:

Towards an effective way forward

By Valerie Hannon and Anthony Mackay

"Critical Theory provides the architecture for the paradigm that school improvement activists need to inhabit."

Author – David Hopkins

About the PAPER.

In the period November 2022–January 2023, an international enquiry was conducted through a series of interviews with distinguished ‘actors’ who have been at the interface of politics and education for the last 20 years, in either elected ministerial or senior political adviser roles.

They cover the jurisdictions of Australia, New Zealand, the UK, US, Canada, Finland, Portugal and Greece, together with a cross-jurisdictional perspective from OECD. This is not a random sample, but a group chosen because of

1. the interviewees’ deep knowledge of and engagement in political processes in relation to education, and

2. their own commitment to the need for profound change.

Unless otherwise designated, all quotations in this paper are from transcripts of our conversations with these interviewees.
We have restricted our attention only to systems in democracies, and we are of course aware that they are in advantaged economies in the global north. The extent to which the conclusions may have any value for other contexts is not for us to judge.

The following analysis is, however, entirely the responsibility of the authors.

About the authors.


Valerie Hannon is a global thought leader, inspiring systems to re-think what ‘success’ will mean in the 21st century, and the implications for education. The co-founder of both Innovation Unit and of the Global Education Leaders Partnership, Valerie is a radical voice for change, whilst grounded in a deep understanding of how education systems currently work.
After a distinguished career within education, Valerie now works independently to support change programs across the world. She has advised governments and worked with systems and schools on every continent, working with some of the most challenged, as well as the leaders in education innovation.
Valerie advised the OECD on its Education 2030 project, and is now expert adviser on its High Performing Systems for Tomorrow program. She is a
regular keynote speaker and facilitator at international
conferences and workshops, drawing upon her substantial research and publications. Her best-selling book THRIVE has been highly influential.
Valerie was the Australian Learning Lecturer for 2020 on the subject of The Future School. The resulting book, FutureSchool, is published by Routledge.
In 2021 Valerie was given the Outstanding Achievement in Education Award by EduFuturists.


Anthony Mackay AM is immediate past CEO and current Co-Chair of the Washington DC-based National Center on Education and the Economy.
Anthony was inaugural Chair Australian Institute for Teaching & School Leadership; inaugural Deputy Chair Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority; immediate past Chair Australian Council for Educational Research and immediate past Deputy Chair of the Education Council New Zealand.
Anthony is Deputy Chancellor Swinburne University, Melbourne; Honorary Senior Fellow, Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne; and Visiting Professor, International Centre for Educational Enhancement, University
of Bolton UK. He is CEO, Centre for Stategic Education, Melbourne and Co-Chair of Learning Creates Australia.
Anthony is co-founder of GELP and was foundation Chair of Innovation Unit. He is an Expert Advisor to OECD, to the WISE Leadership Network and the Global Cities Education Network, and is a Fellow of the Salzburg Global Seminar.
Anthony is the Moderator for the annual International Summit on the Teaching Profession and the High Performing Systems for Tomorrow Program.

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