Michael Barber

Sir Michael Barber is a leading authority on education systems and education reform. Over the past two decades his research and advisory work has focused on school improvement, standards and performance; system-wide reform; effective implementation; access, success and funding in higher education; and access and quality in schools in developing countries.

Barber recently joined Pearson as Chief Education Advisor, leading Pearson’s worldwide programme of research into education policy and efficacy, advising on and supporting the development of products and services that build on the research findings, and playing a particular role in Pearson’s strategy for education in the poorest sectors of the world, particularly in fast-growing developing economies.

Prior to Pearson, he was a Partner at McKinsey & Company and Head of McKinsey’s global education practice. He co-authored two major McKinsey education reports: How the world’s most improved school systems keep getting better (2010) and How the world’s best-performing schools come out on top (2007). He is also Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Exeter.

Prior to joining McKinsey he was (from 2001) Chief Adviser on Delivery to the British Prime Minister. As Head of the Prime Minister's Delivery Unit he was responsible for the oversight of implementation of the Prime Minister's priority programmes in health, education, transport, policing, the criminal justice system and asylum/immigration. 

In this role, he worked closely with the Prime Minister, the finance minister, the leading domestic policy ministers and the top 200 civil servants in Britain.  The Prime Minister described the delivery unit as the best reform of the British government he made.  Subsequently Michael has advised governments on every continent. 

The approach to delivery he developed is widely seen as constructive and innovative. His book about this experience – Instruction to Deliver: Fighting to Reform Britain's Public Services (Methuen 2008) was described by the Financial Times as “one of the best books about British Government for many years.”

Between 1997 and 2001, he was Chief Adviser to the Secretary of State for Education on School Standards. Prior to joining government he was a Professor at the Institute of Education, University of London.

Before joining government he was a professor at the Institute of Education at the University of London. He is the author of several books including Instruction to Deliver; The Learning Game: Arguments for an Education Revolution and How to do the Impossible: a Guide for Politicians with a Passion for Education.