Office of the Chief Education Advisor

Sir Michael Barber

Sir Michael BarberSir Michael Barber

In September 2011 became Pearson’s chief education strategist. Michael and his team are currently focusing on three major areas of work at Pearson:

Efficacy: Detailed research and experimentation on what works in education, and how to demonstrate the effectiveness of different approaches, services and materials. This initiative is a major component of the company’s global commitment to proven improvement in learning outcomes.

Affordable Learning: Finding business models for affordable schools and other educational solutions in developing areas of the world, to help meet United Nations goals of universal primary education and to raise achievement.


Building a Pearson Knowledge and Research Centre: Creating an archive of material on different areas of educational research and practice, which will be publicly accessible as a valuable resource.

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Sir Michael Barber is a leading authority on education systems and education reform. Over the past two decades his research and advisory work has focused on school improvement, standards and performance; system-wide reform; effective implementation; access, success and funding in higher education; and access and quality in schools in developing countries.

Barber recently joined Pearson as Chief Education Advisor, leading Pearson’s worldwide programme of research into education policy and efficacy, advising on and supporting the development of products and services that build on the research findings, and playing a particular role in Pearson’s strategy for education in the poorest sectors of the world, particularly in fast-growing developing economies.

Prior to Pearson, he was a Partner at McKinsey & Company and Head of McKinsey’s global education practice. He co-authored two major McKinsey education reports: How the world’s most improved school systems keep getting better (2010) and How the world’s best-performing schools come out on top (2007). He is also Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Exeter.

He previously served the UK government as Head of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit (from 2001-2005) and as Chief Adviser to the Secretary of State for Education on School Standards (from 1997-2001). Before joining government he was a professor at the Institute of Education at the University of London. He is the author of several books including Instruction to Deliver; The Learning Game: Arguments for an Education Revolution and How to do the Impossible: a Guide for Politicians with a Passion for Education.