The National Education Trust is an independent charitable foundation
leading and promoting excellent practice and innovation in education.
David Laws speaks to the National Education Trust on raising standards
Click to read more on the Department for Education web site
Richard Howard: National Education Trust Chair and Roy Blatchford: National Education Trust Executive Director
I first met Mike at the National Education Trust's inaugural annual lecture by Sir David Bell in March 2007. This is when I first heard the quote from Estelle Morris that the DfE looked to Mike's BBC column for clarity about the complex issues of the day which the Department was wrestling with. I thought it a wonderful compliment for Mike - one he shrugged off with his gentle smile.
Mike was a kind, generous (he once gave up a whole day to help me develop media relations skills - a big job!), funny, tenacious and incredibly sharp man. Underpinning these qualities were a set of strong values that shone through whenever you spoke with him.
I could write pages and pages of examples of Mike's skills and abilities during his work for the Trust, but to choose one…. Mike's chairing of Peter Hyman's March 2012 lecture - his ability (whilst very unwell) to cut through to critical issues around Free Schools and how they might bring about better outcomes for young people was unsurpassed. His question and answer session with Peter was simply a privilege to be part of.
Mike's contribution to the National Education Trust's work - his clarity of thinking and analysis - will always be with us.
I can remember very clearly the conversation I had with Mike in March 2011 about his on-going cough, shortly before the cancer diagnosis, and then the unfolding horror, humour, hope and honesty that followed, both in private conversations and through the exceptional cancer blog, which typical of Mike, has helped so many people.
I wanted to do something positive for Mike, something ambitious... so we concocted a plan to raise money for a great cancer charity, Starthrowers. I was to fly to Thailand for the weekend, try to win the River Kwai half marathon and then fly back to the office for work on the Tuesday morning. I got so motivated by the plan that I managed to plan the trip over my 10th wedding anniversary! We laughed a lot about that.
In closing, there is so much that we will all miss about Mike, but his writing was really something special. His cancer blog piece 'Riding out the storm' deserves the highest recognition. To write with such quality, in the most challenging of circumstances, demonstrates what an exceptional person Mike was.
Whilst so many of us will be desperately sad that Mike is no longer here, I hope we can celebrate having known him too.
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