Alison Peacock

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A portrait photograph of Dame Alison Peacock
Dame Alison Peacock (11 January 2017)

Dame Alison Margaret Peacock, DBE DL FRSA (née Mann; born 17 October 1959) is a British educator, public speaker, writer and best known originator of the Learning Without Limits approach to education. She is the Chief Executive of the Chartered College of Teaching as well as a trustee of Teach First and a columnist for The Times Educational Supplement.

Early life and education[edit]

Alison Margaret Mann was born in 1959 in London to Leslie and Patricia Mann, and educated at Oakthorpe and Hunsdon primary schools. She attended Hadham Hall Schooland the University of London, earning a BA degree in 1981. She attended the University of Warwick where she gained a PGCE in primary education in 1982. In 1996 she was awarded a MEd from Queens' College, Cambridge.[1]

Teaching career[edit]

She started her teaching career in secondary schools, then worked in Hertfordshire Teachers' Centres before moving into primary school education where she remained until the start of 2017. Her first teaching post was at Passmores Comprehensive, Harlow, Essex in 1992, which some years later featured in a fly-on-the-wall documentary, Educating Essex, for Channel 4.

She taught in one other secondary school, two Teachers' Centres and three primary schools before her last teaching appointment. In 2003 she was appointed Headteacher of The Wroxham School, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, a single form primary school in 'special measures'. The school emerged from 'special measures' ten months later and within two and a half years was rated as 'outstanding' by Ofsted. Subsequently, when re-inspected in both 2009 and 2013 it was judged to be 'outstanding' in all categories.[2]

In 2012, The Wroxham Foundation was established. The school generated international interest in its "Learning without Limits" inclusive, creative approach to school improvement and has hosted delegations from around the world. The school annually accepts students, as part of their teacher training, from Appalachian State University (USA) and Padderborn University (Germany).[3][4][5][6][7]

Honours, memberships and other educational roles[edit]

In the 2014 New Year's Honours list she was awarded the rank of Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for services to education.[8]

In July 2014 she was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters by the University of Brighton. In May 2015 she was appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant by the Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, the Countess of Verulam. In December 2015 she was appointed as a Visiting Professor by the University of Hertfordshire.[citation needed]

Educational research[edit]

She has been involved in a number of educational research projects from 1985 to date. At Wreake Valley Community College, Leicester, in 1985 she participated in the ORACLE study led by Professor Maurice Galton, University of Leicester. In 1996 her master's degree thesis 'Situational integration is not enough' explored inclusion in primary classrooms through a case study approach.[citation needed]

The ESRC funded a project on Pupil Voice[9] in which she led school based research from 1999 to 2001 together with Dr Sara Bragg and Professor Michael Fielding, University of Sussex.[10]

From 2001-03 she was one of nine teachers whose classroom practice and pedagogical approach was studied by a team of University of Cambridge researchers led by Professor Donald McIntyre. This research was subsequently published as the internationally acclaimed book Learning without Limits in 2004.[11]

From 2006-09, Wroxham School formed the basis of research into teaching without labelling by ability. As co-researcher she published the findings in 2012 with, Susan Hart, Mary Jane Drummond and Mandy Swann in Creating Learning without Limits.[12] This work has been translated and published: in Spanish by Ediciones Morata and in Japanese by Josai University and the English Agency (Japan).[13]

Her latest book, Assessment for Learning without Limits, was published by McGraw Hill in July 2016.[14]

Personal details[edit]

She married on 6 August 1983, has two daughters and lives in Hertford, Hertfordshire.[citation needed]


In addition to her books, Assessment for Learning without Limits and Creating Learning without Limits she has written several contributions to other books and numerous articles, some of these publications include:

  • Working as a team. Children and Teachers at Wheatcroft Primary School Learning from Each other, FORUM (2001).
  • Listening to Children FORUM (2001)
  • Raising standards. What do we really want?, FORUM (2005)
  • Escaping from the bottom set. Finding a voice for school improvement, School Improvement Journal (2006)
  • If you go down to the woods today, FORUM (2007)
  • Exploring the art of the possible, an irresistible invitation to all learners, NASEN (2009)
  • The Cambridge Primary Review: a voice for the future, FORUM (2010)
  • Beyond assessment levels: Reaching for new heights in primary education, NUT (2011)
  • Developing outward facing schools where citizenship is a lived experience, The Gordon Cook Foundation (2012)
  • Circles of Influence, Sanders, E (Ed) (2012); Moving beyond “What’s in it for me?”
  • The art of the possible: creative principle leadership, Wilson, A (Ed) (2015); Creativity in Primary Education, Sage Publications Ltd., London


  1. ^ "Professional Support". Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  2. ^ "The Wroxham TLA/A National Teaching School". Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  3. ^ Peacock, A. (2009). "Exploring the art of the possible, an irresistible invitation to all learners". NASEN. Policy Paper 5. 
  4. ^ Peacock, A. (2007). "If you go down to the woods today". FORUM. Symposium Journals. 
  5. ^ Peacock, A. (2006). "Escaping from the bottom set. Finding a voice for school improvement". School Improvement Journal. 
  6. ^ Moggach, T. (6 June 2006). "Every voice matters' The Wroxham School". Education Guardian. 
  7. ^ Peacock, A. (2005). "Raising Standards: What Do We Really Want?". Symposium Journals. Forum for promoting 3–19 Comprehensive Education: 6. Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  8. ^ "No. 60728". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2013. p. 7. 
  9. ^ "Listening to Children". Forum for promoting 3–19 Comprehensive Education. 2001. 
  10. ^ "Working as a team. Children and Teachers at Wheatcroft Primary School Learning from Each Other". Forum for promoting 3–19 Comprehensive Education. 2001. 
  11. ^ Susan Hart (2004). Learning without limits (Reprint ed.). Buckingham [u.a.]: Open Univ. Press. ISBN 033521259X. 
  12. ^ Swann, M. Peacock, A. Hart, S, Drummond, M.J (2012). Creating learning without limits. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill/Open University Press. ISBN 0335242111. 
  13. ^ Peacock, A. (2011). "Beyond assessment levels: Reaching for new heights in primary education". NUT education review. 23 (2, Summer 2011). 
  14. ^ Alison Peacock (2016). Assessment for Learning without limits (Print ed.). London, UK: McGraw-Hill/Open Univ. Press. ISBN 033526136-1. 

External links[edit]