Lee Elliot Major is Britain’s first Professor of Social Mobility. Appointed by the University of Exeter to be a global leader in the field, his work is dedicated to improving the prospects of disadvantaged young people. As a Professor of Practice he is focused on the impact and dissemination of research, working closely with schools, universities, employers and policy makers. His Penguin book Social Mobility and Its Enemies has attracted attention across the world. His forthcoming Bloomsbury book What Works? offers best bets to teachers for improving outcomes for disadvantaged pupils. He commissioned and co-authored the first Sutton Trust-EEF toolkit, a guide used by 100,000s of school leaders. Lee is a founding trustee of the Education Endowment Foundation and chairs its evaluation advisory group. He is Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics International Inequalities Institute, and an Honorary Professor at the UCL Institute of Education. He was formerly Chief Executive of the Sutton Trust. Lee regularly appears in national broadcast and print media, commenting on education and social mobility issues. He has served on several Government advisory bodies and presented several times to the House of Commons Education Select Committee. He has a PhD in theoretical physics and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Sheffield for services to education. He was an education journalist working for the Guardian and the Times Higher Education Supplement. He is a Governor at William Ellis School. He is the first in his family to attend university.
In this interview, part of the Lead the Change Series of the American Educational Research Association Educational Change Special Interest Group, Dr. Major talks about his diverse professional background and common themes in his research. As he puts it:
People often ask me about the common thread running through my career. I’ve been a Ph.D. theoretical physicist, an education journalist, a charity CEO, and now a Professor. The constant across all these roles is my work at the boundaries of research and communication. No matter my position, I continually ask, “What does the evidence tell us? “How can we present it so a wide range of people can understand and act on it?” These same questions lie at the heart of this year’s AERA conference. For me it’s perfect timing.
This Lead the Change interview appears as part of a series that features experts from around the globe, highlights promising research and practice, and offers expert insight on small- and large-scale educational change. Recently Lead the Change has also interviewed Kristin Kew and Thomas Hatch.