A former union activist and founder of the grassroots Labour Teachers website has been appointed as head of education at right-leaning think tank Policy Exchange.
John Blake will leave his role as history consultant and leading practitioner at the Harris Federation to take on the new head of education and social reform position.
He replaces Jonathan Simons, who left to join the Varkey Foundation.
Blake will head a new team that also includes Mark Lehain, principal of Bedford Free School, and Tom Richmond, a sixth form teacher and former government adviser, as senior policy fellows. The latter two will continue teaching.
The teachers will also be joined by Rebecca Lowe Coulson, who is part of the ConservativeHome’s editorial team.
The think tank was co-founded by former education secretary Michael Gove in 2002.
Blake and Lehain are also members of the education reform group, Parents and Teachers Excellence, which aims to promote a knowledge-based curriculum, more assessment and effective discipline policies.
A spokesperson for the think tank said early priorities will include “exploring the role of an effective, knowledge-rich curriculum and well-constructed assessment in improving pupils’ education and reducing teacher workload”.
“Underpinning the unit’s work is a conviction that whilst much has been done to deliver a world-class education system, too many children, especially outside London, do not yet have access to the best, and the way forward will require a grasp of the “lived reality” of our schools, which the unit is well-served to provide.”
Simons tweeted he “couldn’t be more pleased” with the new team.