Sir Richard Lambert, Dame Julia Cleverdon, Lewis Iwu and Barry Sheerman

Sir Richard Lambert, Dame Julia Cleverdon, Lewis Iwu and Barry Sheerman

The Fair Education Alliance has appointed Sir Richard Lambert as chair, Dame Julia Cleverdon as vice-chair, and Lewis Iwu as its director.

The alliance was set up last year to find solutions to educational inequality and to monitor the progress made to narrow the gap.

Mr Iwu says the main goal is to “send out a strong message that education inequality is everyone’s concern, it is not just about charities or government”. They will try to influence three areas — policy, agenda and collaboration.

“We are not here to just be a body that develops ideas, we actually want to implement those ideas. Part of that will be taking policy suggestions from other think-tanks or educationists, and using our collective voice for good.”

The 28-year-old formerly worked for the advisory firm, The Brunswick Group. He is also a former president of the Student Union at the University of Oxford where he studied politics, philosophy and economics.

He attended St Bonaventure’s comprehensive in Newham, east London, where under the guidance of Sir Michael Wilshaw, his former headteacher, he led his school to victory in the UK Schools Mace, an annual debating championship. It was the first comprehensive school team to win the contest.

Sir Richard is also chair of the board of trustees at the British Museum and chancellor of the University of Warwick.

He was editor of the Financial Times from 1991 to 2001, a member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee from 2003 to 2006, and director general of the Confederation of British Industry from 2006 to 2011.

Following his appointment, he said: “The correlation in our country between economic deprivation, poor schooling and limited life chances is a national scandal – and one with serious economic and social consequences. This is a challenge that can and must be addressed.”

Dame Julia is also vice-president of Business in the Community, chair of Read On. Get On, chairperson of the National Literacy Trust and vice-patron of Teach First. She was chief executive of Business in the Community from 1992 to 2008 and once was named in the top “50 most influential women in Britain” by The Times.

Labour MP for Huddersfield and a former chair of the education committee, Barry Sheerman, is to chair a new Sutton Trust education advisory group.

Meeting twice a year, he will lead a group of 12 educationists to review the strategic plan for the trust and add suggestions on where it should improve.

“Any charity that is doing really valuable work and that is keeping strictly to a code of making a difference . . . knows that it is very easy to create something of a bubble,” he says.

“Sometimes you do need an advisory group to say ‘hey come on, why don’t we expand the vision, have you thought of this?’”

Mr Sheerman was chair of the education select committee from 2001 until 2010. He was the Opposition spokesperson for education and employment from 1983 to 1988 and served as vice-chairman of the all-party group on universities. He also co-chairs the Policy Connect Skills Commission into further education and skills policy.

He was a lecturer at University College of Wales, Swansea, for 13 years, and has been a governor of the London School of Economics since 1995.