|Born||2 August 1953|
|Occupation||Head master, contemporary historian, commentator and political author|
|Known for||Master of Wellington College|
Anthony Francis Seldon MA, PhD, FRSA, PGCE MBA, FRHistS, FKC (born 2 August 1953) is a British schoolmaster and a contemporary historian, commentator and political author, known in part for his biographies of John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. He is the 13th Master [headmaster] of Wellington College, one of Britain's prominent co-educational independent boarding schools. In 2009, he set up The Wellington Academy, the first state school to carry the name of its founding independent school. Before that, he was head of Brighton College. Seldon is the author or editor of over 35 books on contemporary history, politics and education, was the co-founder and first director of the Centre for Contemporary British History, is the co-founder of Action for Happiness, is a governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company and is on the board a number of charities and educational bodies. He is also both honorary historical adviser to 10 Downing Street and a member of the First World War Centenary Culture Committee.
Seldon was educated at Tonbridge School and Worcester College, Oxford, where he gained an BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. He then completed a PhD at the London School of Economics. He also has a Master of Business Administration. He qualified as a schoolteacher at King's College London, where he was awarded the top teaching prize in the year across all subjects.
Seldon’s first teaching appointment was at Whitgift School in Croydon in 1983, where he was Head of Politics and taught in the Sixth Form. In 1989 he returned to his old school, Tonbridge, and became Head of History and General Studies. In 1993 he was appointed Deputy Headmaster and, ultimately, Acting Headmaster of St Dunstan's in South London. He then became Headmaster of Brighton College from September 1997 until he joined Wellington College in January 2006 as its 13th Master. He became Executive Principal at The Wellington Academy (a separate school) in 2013.
At both Brighton College and Wellington, he drove the school up the league tables for examination results, and both are now among the best-performing academic schools in the country. Wellington College was named ‘Best Public School – Tatler 2013’ and ‘Most Forward-Thinking School – The Week, 2013’. At Wellington College, Seldon has introduced the International Baccalaureate, and the school is now one of the top performing IB schools in the world. Having taken a three-month sabbatical from January to March 2014 (leaving Wellington to be run in the interim by his deputies, Robin Dyer and Jane Lunnon, who claimed it would be "business as usual"),
History, politics and other writing
Anthony Seldon's books include Churchill's Indian Summer (1981), which won a Best First Work Prize; Major, A Political Life (1997); The Powers Behind the Prime Minister (1999) co-written with Professor Dennis Kavanagh; 10 Downing Street: The Illustrated History (2000); The Foreign Office: The Illustrated History Of The Place And Its People (2001); Blair (2004); Blair Unbound (2007), Trust (2009); Brown at 10 (2010) with Guy Lodge; The Great War and Public Schools (2013) with David Walsh; The Architecture of Diplomacy: The British Ambassador's Residence in Washington (2014) with Daniel Collings; and Cameron at 10 (2015) with Peter Snowdon. He has edited many books, including the series The Thatcher Effect (1989); The Major Effect (1994); The Blair Effect (2001); The Blair Effect 2001-2005 (2005); Blair’s Britain (2007); and The Cameron Effect (2015) with Dr Mike Finn. Other prominent edited books include Ruling Performance, with Professor Peter Hennessy and Conservative Century, with Professor Stuart Ball. He has written a number of booklets on education, including Private and Public Education: The Divide Must End (2000); Partnership not Paternalism (2001); An End To Factory Schools (2010) and The Independent School Problem (2013). His 2011 Cass Lecture was published as ‘Why Schools? Why Universities?’ He also founded two journals, Contemporary British History (as Contemporary Record) and Twentieth Century British History.
During his time at Brighton College, Seldon wrote Brave New City: Brighton & Hove Past, Present, Future, an analysis of the city of Brighton and Hove focused principally on its buildings. He described it as "a passionate advocacy of the need for progress [...] Brighton and Hove must now move into a [new] era and become an international city".
Work in education
Seldon is regarded as one of the country's most high-profile headmasters and appears regularly on television and radio and in the press, and has written regularly for national newspapers including The Times, The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Guardian. His views on education have regularly been sought by the government and political parties. For fifteen years he has organised conferences that have helped set the educational agenda, attracting many heads from across the United Kingdom. He is a passionate exponent of co-education, the International Baccalaureate, independent education, the teaching of happiness and well-being, and the development of the all-round child. Among his innovations and campaigns have been the following:
- Introducing well-being or happiness classes at Wellington College in 2006, including regular ‘stillness’ sessions. The UK government has now introduced well-being as a target for national policy
- Pioneering work on holistic education in schools, based on the Wellington model of ‘eight aptitudes’ derived from Professor Howard Gardner's ‘multiple intelligences’
- Campaigning to bridge the divide between state and independent sectors, and campaigning for independent schools to sponsor academies, as Wellington College did when it started the Wellington Academy
- Introducing ‘leadership education’ for all pupils and championing ‘character education’
- Establishing parent classes and parent learning, which he introduced in the early 1990s at Tonbridge School in the celebrated Tonbridge Parents' Arts Society
- Promoting ‘active learning’, using the ‘Harkness table’ teaching approach brought over from the US and the ‘Middle Years’ approach of the IB
- Setting up the first ‘carbon copy’ schools in China, with Wellington College Tianjin opening in 2011 and Wellington College Shanghai in 2014, and a champion of schools and universities opening in the BRIC countries
- Advocating his students choosing US and other top global universities as their major higher education destination
- Championing ‘restorative justice’, and reducing rules and punishments in schools
- Opening the first ‘bookless’ or digital school library at Wellington in 2012, and championing digital learning
- Actively promoting modern languages teaching and Mandarin teaching in schools, including setting up the first Mandarin Centre in a UK school in 2012 as part of a sustained push on the teaching of Mandarin in UK schools and being the first serving head to take Mandarin GCSE (in 2014)
- Actively campaigning against ‘factory schools’ and in favour of personalised schools with personalised education
- Campaigning for Shakespeare to be studied and acted in all schools in his capacity as a governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company
- Convening conferences for schools, founding the Brighton Conference from 1998 and The Sunday Times Festival of Education from 2010
Achievements and awards
Seldon has honorary doctorates or fellowships from the University of Buckingham, the University of Brighton and Richmond University and in 2007 was given a Chair at the College of Teachers as Professor of Education. He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Royal Society of Arts. He was appointed a Fellow of King’s College London in 2013.
In 1986 Seldon co-founded, with Professor Peter Hennessy, the Institute of Contemporary British History, the internationally respected body whose aim is to promote research into, and the study of, British history since 1945. Seldon is a co-founder of Action for Happiness with Richard Layard (Baron Layard), and Geoff Mulgan. He is on the Advisory Board of the New College of the Humanities in London. Seldon is a patron of The Iris Project, which runs innovative Literacy through Latin schemes in schools in deprived urban areas and DrugFAM, which supports families affected by a loved one’s use of drugs or alcohol.
Among his television work, he has presented In Search of Tony Blair (Channel 4, 2004) and Trust (BBC Two, 2010). A YouTube clip of him talking about education can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gFVM3zAP1Y.
Seldon is married to Joanna, who also teaches and writes, and they have three children (Jessica, Susannah and Adam). According to Who's Who, his interests are sport, directing plays, family and old English sports cars. He is the youngest son of economist Arthur Seldon, who co-founded the Institute of Economic Affairs, where he directed academic affairs for 30 years.
References and notes
- "‘SELDON, Anthony Francis’, Who's Who 2013, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2013; online edn, Oxford University Press".(subscription required)
- "School Results". The Times. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- "Wellington College to run Academy". BBC website. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- "Dr Anthony Seldon: Truly happy people are made, not born". The Independent. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- "RSC Annual Report 2011-12". Royal Shakespeare Company. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- Seldon, Anthony (1981). The Churchill Government of 1951-55: a study of personalities and policy making (PhD thesis). London School of Economics.
- Hurst, Greg (13 December 2013). "Gove’s reform champion to take sabbatical". The Times. Retrieved 15 March 2014.
- Seldon, Anthony (2010). Churchill's Indian Summer: The Conservative Government, 1951-1955. Faber and Faber. p. 694. ISBN 057127269X.
- Seldon, Anthony (1997). Major: A Political Life. W&N. p. 512. ISBN 0297816071.
- Dennis Kavanagh, Anthony Seldon (1999). The Powers Behind the Prime Minister: The Hidden Influence of Number Ten. HarperCollins. p. 352. ISBN 0002570866.
- Seldon, Anthony (1999). 10 Downing Street: The Illustrated History. HarperCollins Illustrated. p. 232. ISBN 0004140737.
- Seldon, Anthony (2000). The Foreign Office: The Illustrated History Of The Place And Its People. HarperCollins Illustrated. p. 240. ISBN 000710118X.
- Seldon, Anthony (2005). Blair. Free Press. p. 768. ISBN 0743232127.
- Seldon, Anthony (2008). Blair Unbound. Pocket Books. p. 608. ISBN 1847390900.
- Seldon, Anthony (2010). Trust: How We Lost it and How to Get it Back. Biteback. p. 256. ISBN 1849540012.
- Anthony Seldon, Guy Lodge (2011). Brown at 10. Biteback Publishing. p. 560. ISBN 1849541221.
- Anthony Seldon, David Walsh (2013). Public Schools and the Great War. Pen & Sword Military. p. 320. ISBN 1781593086.
- Dennis Kavanagh, Anthony Seldon (1989). The Thatcher Effect: A Decade of Change. Oxford Paperbacks. p. 372. ISBN 0198277466.
- Dennis Kavanagh, Anthony Seldon (1994). The Major Effect. Macmillan. p. 288. ISBN 0333622731.
- Seldon, Anthony (2001). The Blair Effect. Little, Brown. ISBN 0316856363.
- Seldon, Anthony (2005). The Blair Effect, 2001-5. Cambridge University Press. p. 496. ISBN 0521678609.
- Seldon, Anthony (2007). Blair’s Britain, 1997-2007. Cambridge University Press. p. 708. ISBN 0521709466.
- Seldon, Anthony (2000). Public & Private Education: The Divide Must End. The Social Market Foundation. ISBN 1874097941.
- Seldon, Anthony (2010). An End To Factory Schools. Centre for Policy Studies. p. 88. ISBN 1906996199.
- Seldon, Anthony. "Why Schools, Why Universities?". Sir John Cass's Foundation. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- Seldon, Anthony (2002). Brave New City: Brighton & Hove Past, Present, Future. Lewes: Pomegranate Press. Introduction. ISBN 0-9542587-1-1.
- "Anthony Seldon". Journalisted. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- "Anthony Seldon". The Times. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- "Anthony Seldon". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- "School to give pupils lessons in happiness". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- "All that is me". Education News. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- "We need to fix Britain’s character flaws". The Daily Telegraph. 15 May 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- "Oval Harkness table plan to stop pupils hiding in class". Daily Telegraph. 6 October 2008. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- "Wellington College to poll parents on plan to drop GCSEs in favour of Baccalaureate". Daily Telegraph. 16 December 2008. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- "Wellington College tightens China link". The Times. 1 March 2013. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- Seldon, Anthony. "Keynote speech: The Schools Network Annual Languages Conference, University of Warwick. 6 October 2011". Retrieved 24 September 2013.
- "Mandarin language centre opens at Wellington College". BBC News. 2 June 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- "Festival of Education". Website. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- "University of Buckingham". Website. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- "University of Brighton Honorary Doctorates". Website. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- "University of Richmond Honorary Degree Recipients". Website. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- "College of Teachers". Website. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- "The Iris Project". Website. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- "DrugFAM". Website. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- "In search of Tony Blair". Channel 4. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
- "Trust Politics". Website. BBC. Retrieved 6 September 2013.