Funding for think tanks with an interest in education – 1 – Policy Exchange publications 2010-present

These are Policy Exchange’s education-related publications as given on their site. I have listed them most recent first.

[Edited to add:Laura McInerney pointed me to this useful summary of information about Policy Exchange, just for some context.]

I asked Jonathan Simons about transparency of funding, and he responded in a series of tweets which I’ve combined together here:

‘Any donor can give money to a report, to an event, to general, or a combination. We don’t take commissions or public cash; all our work is editorially independent and complies with charity law. Obv we’re audited every year and a/c published on web. in general, charity commission rules allow for charity doors to choose whether to be declared or not. Trustees of PX need to be assured they ‘know, the donor (money laundering) and its a legitimate donation – due diligence – and charity rules don’t allow for any donor of any charity to direct its activities. This is crawled over by auditors.’

So I take it from this that named funders on any report as listed below are not necessarily the only people to have funded it (although they might be). JS emphasises that funders are not allowed to dictate what a charitable organization such as PX does.

Of course, they’re unlikely to donate to an organization that’s doing something they don’t like…!

NB Although when I first asked Jonathan Simons about who funds Policy Exchange, he said (again via Twitter, hence truncated wording) ‘Look on the acknowledge page of reports, it’s set out there.’ I’ve found various instances where funders do not in fact seem to be named in the publication.  In those cases, unless I’ve missed a mention elsewhere, I suppose a completely anonymous funding source must be assumed.

It’s understandable for private individuals to want to remain private. And it’s no surprise if the people or organizations donating funds are mostly very wealthy – or that their wealth will tend to have been acquired through business or financial activity. But this does mean that policy is heavily influenced by organizations such as PX, which are in turn dependent upon these sets of interests for their existence. I should note that some funders appear donate to more than one think tank, sometimes across a broad political spectrum. The structural issue of anonymous funding seems to me to go deeper than party politics. It bothers me.


List of named funders

The title of each contains a link to the associated PX page, and the names or organizations given are those who appear to have contributed to the funding of each publication. They are not the authors.

Watching the Watchmen‘ Mr Krishna Rao and The J Isaacs Charitable Trust

Reversing the Widget Effect‘ Mr Krishna Rao and The J Isaacs Charitable Trust

Centres of Excellence‘ The Hadley Trust

Quality Childcare‘ The Hadley Trust

Technical Matters‘ Cambridge Assessment, the Association of Colleges and David Meller (thanked for support: not clear whether financial or other)

Competition Meets Collaboration‘ Essex Research Trust (listed in usual position given to financial supporters in PX publications, but not explicitly stated)

Social Enterprise Schools‘ No funders explicitly named; possibly Mr. James Wrigley, although wording unclear

Vocational Value‘ Sir Robert Horton and Charles Alexander

Best Behaviour‘ No funders explicitly named; possibly Mr. James Wrigley, although wording unclear

Room at the Top‘ Not explicitly stated but implied: ‘King Abdulaziz and his Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity’

Higher Education in the Age of Austerity: Shared Services…‘ Funders not explicitly named. See acknowledgments at end of publication for ‘support’, which presumably includes some financial and some other.

Special Educational Needs‘ Leo Noé and the Rachel Charitable Trust

Designing Student Loans to Protect Low Earners‘ No funders named (unless I’ve missed them somewhere…).

Higher Education in the Age of Austerity:The Role of Private Providers‘ No funders explicitly named. Acknowledgements (p. 4) seem to refer to advice or similar rather than financial support.

Teacher Expertise for Special Educational Needs‘ Leo Noé and the Rachel Charitable Trust

Blocking the Best‘ No funders explicitly named (names given seem to imply advice rather than financial support)

More Fees Please?‘ Thanks ‘our consortium of donors’ – no explicit names

Simply Learning‘ Microsoft, City & Guilds, Reed in Partnership, the Financial Services Skills Council, Edge and the Open University.





2 thoughts on “Funding for think tanks with an interest in education – 1 – Policy Exchange publications 2010-present

    • Thanks! I looked at the reports because whofundsyou seemed to have so little info about PX relative to, say, Civitas, or Compass; so I went to the horse’s mouth, as it were, and Jonathan S pointed me to the acknowledgements… I’m interested in understanding (and helping other parents to understand) the *kinds* of interest-groups now involved in shaping education. It’s so very different from when most of us were at school! And thanks v much for the reminder about Powerbase – I think I stumbled across it at some point, but I’ll add a link to the post.

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