Date: Tuesday 6 April 2010
Time: 06:00pm - 08:00pm
Simon Clark is director of the smokers’ lobby group Forest and founder of The Free Society. Born in London, he was educated at Madras College, St Andrews, and Aberdeen University. He returned to London for his first job - in public relations.
In 1983 he launched a national student magazine called Campus; in 1984 he worked, briefly, for a Frankfurt-based human rights group; and from 1985-1990 he was director of the Media Monitoring Unit, a London-based research group founded by a former Labour minister, Lord Chalfont, and Dr Julian Lewis, who is now Conservative MP for New Forest West.
As a freelance journalist, Simon edited a string of in-house magazines, the most recent of which was The Politico for Politico’s Bookshop in Westminster.
Simon has been director of Forest since January 1999. He is Forest’s principal spokesman and appears regularly on radio and television defending the poor beleaguered smoker.
Date: Tuesday 23 March 2010
Time: 12:45pm - 02:15pm
Title: Inspecting Schools: Promoting Excellence
Miriam Rosen, the Executive Director of Ofsted was our Power Lunch guest this week. She outlined the schools regulator's way of working, which involves a lighter touch for good and outstanding schools and more emphasis on the less satisfactory ones.
There are 1001 things one can try in order to improve education – including spending hundreds of millions on new buildings, as Gordon brown has done. Sure, kids have to be treated as individuals and not statistics (which the obsession with exam results does not help either), and need a degree of discipline in order to learn anything. What seems to come out from Rosen's experience, though, is that what really makes the difference in education is good teachers and good teachers.
That chimes in with the work of James Tooley, who can point to countless excellent schools in Africa and India which do not even have buildings, with the teaching taking place under the shade of a tree. But if it's good teaching, it works – so much so that even the poorest parents are willing to pay for it.
But talent costs money. Many excellent teachers give up because they simply can't afford to live in some of the more affluent areas; and who wants to go to a failing school in a tough part of town unless they are decently rewarded? Naturally, the problem is the politicisation of education, in which remuneration is seen as an exercise in promoting equality rather than in steering talent to where it is needed (and telling non-talent that it isn't wanted, frankly). Until schools manage their own budgets and decide their own pay scales, I can't see things improving.
Date: Wednesday 10 March 2010
Time: 06:30pm - 08:30pm
Speakers: Dr Eamonn Butler & Peter Oborne
Location: The Garden Room, St Stephen's Club, 34 Queen Anne's Gate, London, SW1H 9AB
The UK is in an appalling state. The effects of the great recession lumber on. Public debt, public services and public pensions are bloated after a decade of ill-placed optimism. The country is burdened by regulations and laws that have undermined basic freedoms. What needs to be done to remake Britain as a first-rate country? In The Alternative Manifesto, Dr Eamonn Butler interviews the best political thinkers in the UK including the heads of all the leading think-tanks to create a twelve-step plan to rescue the UK from its government's long-term addictions. He tackles the most crucial areas from the economy and politicians, to regulation and taxes with detailed solutions that can easily be achieved over the next Parliament. Drawing on the ideas of some of the brightest people in Britain, Eamonn Butler puts forward a comprehensive programme to cut government back to a healthy size. The twelve steps will stop the UK's decay, before it becomes terminal.
More info: http://tinyurl.com/altmanifesto
Date: Wednesday 3 March 2010
Time: 12:45pm - 02:15pm
The Editors is a series of Power Lunches with the editors of the countries top newspapers. Inspired by a lunch with Lionel Barber towards the end of last year, we already have most of the top newspaper editors booked to discuss the newspaper industry and current events.
All power lunches take place from 12.45-2.15pm in our offices at 23 Great Smith Street, Westminster. These events are by invitation only, but if you are interested in attending please contact Philip at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 020 7222 4995.