Professional Experience

Assistant Director, Curriculum and Standards

Department for Education, 2013 – 2017 

I worked with government ministers and senior officials to develop and deliver policy with the aim of raising standards in core subjects in state-funded primary, secondary and 16-18 academic education, most recently leading the department’s work on English and mathematics. I held responsibility for delivery programmes worth £22m annually and shaped the work of strategic external delivery partners and contractors.

Key achievements:

  • Key role in introducing the successful China-England mathematics teacher exchange – an agreement under the ‘People to People dialogue’ between UK and China governments.

  • Led the department’s work with the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) to introduce east Asian ‘mastery’ mathematics teaching in primary schools and shaped and launched the £41m programme to roll out training and textbooks to half of primaries by 2020.

  • Provided oversight and input into the work of Sir Adrian Smith's review of 16-18 mathematics education, providing policy advice and liaising with ministers on findings and recommendations.

  • Commissioned and introduced new level 3 'Core Maths' qualifications for 16-18 students to improve mathematics participation and achievement beyond GCSE, and launched the Core Maths Support Programme.

  • Worked with the Publishers Association (PA) and the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) to improve the quality of textbooks through industry-led guidelines and other measures.

  • Launched the 'Maths Hub' network - 35 school-led centres of excellence which are driving transformation to mathematics teaching in England based on successful approaches internationally.

  • Oversaw the £50m match-funding programme for phonics resources and training for primary schools, working closely with Ministers and regional buying organisations (Pro5) (2012-2014).

  • Led the introduction of the £60m (annually) Year 7 Catch-Up Premium to enable secondary schools to deliver additional support for Year 7 pupils who did not achieve expected standards in mathematics or English in primary school.

  • Developed policy for computing in schools in response to influential reports criticising the ICT curriculum, leading to the introduction of the school Computing curriculum and related measures including teacher training and the school-led network of computing excellence for teacher professional development.

Head of Technology Policy Unit

Department for Education, 2011 – 2013

 

Worked with government Ministers and in partnership with the IT industry and regional and local partnerships to define and develop policies relating to technology in schools and colleges. This included: resetting policy on broadband services for schools in the context of an autonomous school system; introducing measures to strengthen e-safety education in schools; and assessing the educational potential of new technologies (e.g. 3D printers and tablet PCs).

Director, Evidence and Evaluation/e-Strategy

Becta (UK agency for technology in education), 2004 – 2011

Ran Becta's £10m programme of evidence and research, praised by OECD as an exemplar for government organisations internationally. Developed the evidence base on the role and potential value of technology in education, including assessments of the contribution of technology to teacher workload reduction and streamlining information and data handling, and evaluations of the impact of technology on pupil outcomes. Launched the highly regarded ‘Becta Review’ publication which later became the annual ‘Harnessing Technology Review’. Jointly chaired (with BESA) the annual BETT awards for educational hardware and software.

 

Eventually led the transition of Becta’s core functions and 40 members of staff to the Department for Education and other bodies on Becta's closure due to efficiency savings in 2011.

Principal Research Officer

Department for Education and Skills, 2002 – 2004

Supported Ministers to develop policy on ICT in education informed by rigorous policy research and evaluation.

Subject Leader / Head of Department

Sheffield Hallam University, 1998 – 2002

Led a Department delivering courses for students on BSc, BA and Masters courses in social science and digital technology/communication. Helped launch BSc Psychology at Sheffield Hallam University, designing and teaching Cognitive Psychology modules and teaching statistics.

 

Conducted and published research on the impact of emerging technologies (e.g. voice recognition) on writing processes.

Prior roles

Lecturer/Senior Lecturer/Principal Lecturer, Sheffield Hallam University - teaching and research on BA Psychology, BSc Computer Studies, BA and MA Communication Studies.

Research roles at the University of Sheffield and Sheffield City Polytechnic:

- Research assistant on the MRC-funded 'Psychotherapy Project’

 

- Researcher and Prolog programmer on the 'Ruskin’ expert system for writing project.

Programming tutor, Leeds Women's Technology Training Centre.

Education

 

PhD, University of Sheffield, Cognitive models of writing.

MSc, Sheffield City Polytechnic, Computer Science.

BA (Hons), University of Sheffield, Psychology.


 

​© 2018 Vanessa Pittard.

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