Policy First: Local Boy Turned Teaching Guru Takes his Recommendations to Parliament
by Loic Menzies
20th November 2010
Press Release on Loic’s contribution to “Ethos and Culture in Schools in Challenging Circumstances” Policy First 2010:
“As far back as I can remember I used to sit in class, watching what teachers did and taking note of what worked and what didn’t . Aged 12 I even started work on a book to be entitled ‘teaching by the taught’!”
Given that background it was perhaps inevitable that Loic Menzies would go into teaching. Now, aged 25, he is Director of his own Cambridge based education and youth development consultancy. On Monday he’s off to Parliament to launch a Teach First report on ‘Culture and Ethos in Challenging Schools’ for which he was a chapter author. The event will be attended by Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove and his Labour counterpart Andy Burnham as well as journalists from the national press. “The publication of last year’s report was a major national event so I’m really looking forward to this year’s launch which will take place right in the heart of Parliament. There’ll be so many guests there who have the power to make a real difference” comments Loic. The report argues that the key to improving the country’s toughest schools is defining and emphasising a positive culture that encourages pupils to learn and enriches their development.
An ex-pupil of local comprehensives Newnham Croft, Chesterton and Hills Road, Loic left Cambridge in 2006 to study Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford. However, it took the high profile education charity Teach First to take him from the spires of Cambridge and Oxford to the tower blocks of St. George’s R.C School in North West London.
St. George’s was no less high profile, but for very different reasons: Back in 1995, it was here that Headteacher Philip Lawrence was stabbed to death defending a pupil outside the school gates, sending the school straight to the front cover of national and even international newspapers. Yet it is here that Loic forged his career as an “Outstanding” teacher.
“Teaching always felt right to me” Loic said. “I remember when a month into my teacher training, long before I was qualified, an OFSTED inspector and a governor walked into one of my toughest classes; they left saying the lesson was ‘Good with Outstanding Features’ – one of the highest grades you can get.” He spent 3 years at St. George’s, setting up a History and Social Sciences Department and then joining the Senior Management Team aged just 23. By the time he left in 2009, the school was the 5th most improved school in the country. Last year it too was judged “Outstanding”.
On leaving St. George’s, he returned to Cambridge to set up L.K.M Consulting. “When I was growing up here as a teenager I was involved in a lot of youth projects with the City Council’s Youth Participation Team and with the charity Changemakers. I was fascinated by youth-work and policy. After three years in teaching I wanted to widen my work and impact on the big challenge of how society prepares young people for adulthood.” Loic now mixes policy research and writing with school improvement work, being a Tutor in teacher training at Canterbury Christ Church University and supporting charities and social enterprises. “The work’s very varied but it’s all in pursuit of increased standards in the youth sector” he insists.
Loic is just one of Teach First’s “ambassadors”. Whilst the charity made its name recruiting “exceptional graduates” for a two year teaching scheme from top universities like Cambridge and Oxford, the impact goes far beyond this. Graduates of the programme are expected to maintain a lifelong commitment to “challenging educational disadvantage”. Most of them do. This may mean contributing to “Policy First” or mentoring 6th form pupils preparing for university. About 50% each year remain in teaching -there’s even one Headteacher. Many ambassadors like Loic go on to found social enterprises, developing innovative models that deal with education’s biggest challenges.
What next for Loic and L.K.M Consulting? “As a social-entrepreneur what matters to me are the social outcomes: most importantly, an ever increasing impact on the lives of children and young people. I’ve just taken on a Policy Development Partner and as my team grows, I hope the depth of our expertise will too. As we work with more schools and youth organisations and increase our policy clout, I want to move society forward to a point where young people no longer grow up ill-equipped for the challenges of adulthood.”
LoicMenzies, Director and Lead Consultant, L.K.M Consulting Ltd.
[email protected], Twitter: @LKMco, 07793 370459
Notes for editors:
- L.K.M Consulting (www.lkmconsulting.co.uk) is a Cambridge based social enterprise that enables organisations to deliver the outstanding services that young people deserve. It does this by working with policy makers; youth-organisations, charities and social enterprises; teachers and schools. It provides research and writing, mentoring, coaching, training, strategy development and improvement planning.
- Teach First (www.teachfirst.org.uk) is an independent charity that places top graduates in challenging schools in London, Manchester, the Midlands and the North East.
- Policy First- Lessons from the Front is an annual publication by the Teach First community. It lays out recommendations based on Teach First participants’ experiences.
- Initial recommendations from the report were presented at all three major party conferences this Autumn. Michael Gove, Sarah Teather and Andy Burnham have all contributed responses to the recommendations set out in the report. Last year’s publication received high profile coverage on Radio 4’s today program and in the national press.