- Raising Aspirations of Young People and Adults
- Creativity, Culture, Education
- Closing the Acheivement Gap
- Arts And Education
Professor Sonia Blandford is one of the country’s foremost experts on Improving the education and aspirations of children from disadvantaged backgrounds. She focuses on providing the leadership in schools to create equal chances for all. Sonia was named in Debrett’s 2016 list of the Top 500 Most Influential People in the UK, and is among the 2016 Women of the Year. She is Chair of the Blackpool Challenge and also a Founding Trustee of the College of Teaching.
Sonia has been a music teacher since 1980, working in primary and secondary schools across England. She is currently founder and CEO of the award winning educational charity Achievement for All, which provides programmes to improve outcomes for children and young people aged two to 19 years, vulnerable to underachievement, in 4,000 early-years, school and post-16 settings in England and Wales; and professor of education and social enterprise at UCL Institute of Education.
Previously, Sonia was director of research and leadership at Teach First, professor of educational leadership and innovation at the University of Warwick, where she now holds an honorary professorship, pro-vice chancellor and dean of education at Canterbury Christ Church University, deputy dean of the Westminster Institute of Education, Oxford Brookes University and honorary senior research Fellow at the University of Oxford. Prior to her charity and higher education positions, Sonia has also held leadership positions in five secondary schools in Wiltshire, Bath, London and Bristol.
As an innovator in education Sonia led the creation and development of the Teach First initial teacher training programme and EdD programmes at Oxford Brookes University and Canterbury Christ Church University, each aiming to provide the highest quality professional development opportunities for teachers. Sonia was among the first cohort to be awarded an EdD in the UK at the University of Bristol (1995). She was a member of the inaugural NPQH development and delivery team in the South West and has been a quality assurance assessor monitoring quality and standards in higher education. Sonia is currently a leading researcher in the European Agency OECD Raising Attainment project.
In a voluntary capacity, Sonia has founded and supported seven local and national charities that share her commitment to enabling every child to achieve regardless of background, challenge or need. Her first charity, The Corsham Windband Association has engaged children and young people from diverse backgrounds in music making for over 30 years.
Sonia is author of 150 articles and books written for teachers, leaders, parents and carers, and children and young people, most recently publishing with John Catt and Bloomsbury.
Current Positions Held
CEO of Achievement for All.
Professor of Education and Social Enterprise at the London Centre for Leadership in Learning at the Institute of Education.
Honorary Professor of Education, University of Warwick.
Chair – The Blackpool Challenge
Personal Achievements and Awards
Published author of over 150 articles, columns and books on educational leadership, special educational needs, teaching and learning, professional development and music education.
Advisor to UK government, and European Commission.
Pro-Vice Chancellor to the largest provider of Initial Teacher Training and Continuing Professional Development in UK.
Education Investors School Improvement Service of the Year 2013 & 2014 (Achievement for All)
Children and Young People Now Awards – High Commended 2013 (Achievement for All)
Named in Debrett’s list of Top 500 Most Influential People in Britain 2015
Relevant Career and Professional Background
The Corsham Windband Association – Founder 1981
The Pound Arts Centre – Founder 1994
Teach First – Founding Ambassador 2002
Music First – Trustee 2009
National Orchestra for All – Founding Adviser 2011
Early Intervention Foundation – Founding Advisory CEO 2013.