About Laura

I’m a schools expert.

In brief…

I’m an education journalist, co-founder of the daily survey app, Teacher Tapp, and renowned keynote speaker.

For six years I taught in challenging east London schools before being taken to court by the government for asking a question. I eventually became the Guardian’s education columnist and editor of the investigative newspaper Schools Week.

After that I started Teacher Tapp, a daily survey of 10,000 teachers, to help find out the truth of what was happening in schools and use it to challenge government and the media.

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Since 2013, I have been a columnist for The Guardian and have written for other publications including The Observer, the New Statesman, The TES, and Prospect.

I regularly use my schools expertise to appear on broadcasts including Radio 4’s Today, Radio 5 Live, BBC London, LBC, Talk Radio, and Sky News. (If you want to get in touch for broadcast purposes, contact me).

I have authored four books, The Leadership Factor, Leading Academy Trusts, The Leadership Juggling Act, and The Six Predictable Failures of Free Schools (And How To Avoid Them).

Over the past 10 years I have keynoted and hosted at most major education events including, The Wellington Festival of Education, the Headteachers Roundtable, and the BETT show.

My main specialism is looking carefully at government policies, clearing away all the faff and pomp, and explaining exactly what will happen to teachers, pupils, parents and the wider school community.

Onto the nerdy stuff

I’ve a geeky interest in free schools & academies. In 2011 I published the book The Six Predictable Failures of Free Schools…And How To Avoid Them before receiving a Fulbright Scholarship enabling me to spend two years in the US studying their global equivalents.

In 2014 I was taken to court by the Department for Education for asking a question. After initially losing, I later won the answer. I represented myself in court throughout the proceedings.

My specialist topic is the influence of politics on education. I have a database called ‘greatness’ based on my reading of all available biographies of past UK’s Education Secretaries. I once ran a website about the process, documented at www.greatedusecs.com. And I now give talks on what we can learn from past education secretaries and am wheeled out whenever one changes — which is, on average, every 801 days.

I also sell a great card game called Battle of The Education Secretaries if you are a super nerd.

My teacher training was completed through TeachFirst and I received the 2008 Award for Outstanding Teaching.

Click here for my personal background & schooling story

Frequently Asked Questions

I am accused of being many things, but mostly I am a pragmatist.  My favourite questions are:

  • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • Is this really the best way to solve it?, and
  • ​Why aren’t we doing this already?

I’m not a traditionalist, nor a progressive, and anyone telling me this is a false dichotomy can hear my long lecture on why they are wrong. I’m more left-wing than right-wing, but have grave concernes at the extreme of both sides. If the hardliners must run things I’ll have to become a Lib Dem. Extreme veganism is the best of a bad bunch.

It all goes back to the Department for Education taking me to court for asking a question. When representing myself in a courtroom including two male barristers, two male solicitors, and three male judges, I figured if I wore a boring suit it would look like I was on work experience. So I wore bright yellow – as a symbol of ‘shining a light on the truth’ through the case. It has stuck ever since. Please contact me if you see a nice one in a shop as they are hard to find!

It’s more than likely that I’d love to. My diary gets full reasonably far in advance so it’s worth checking in with me sooner rather than later. I do also charge to speak at events. Even if the speaking requirement is only on a short panel with little preparation, it will still require me to taking around half a day at minimum to travel to and from the event and be there. Get more info →

They vary depending on the size of event, the need for additional preparation/customisation, and the time that travelling and attending the event will take. Fees typically start at £800 at the lower level and go up to around £2,500. My assistant, Angela, will discuss what you need and give an estimate before you are required to book anything. Get more info →