Final Briar Lipson

Briar Lipson

Research Fellow

Briar is a Research Fellow specialising in education. Before joining the Initiative she was a Maths teacher and Assistant Principal in London, where she also co-founded the Floreat family of primary schools. Briar has worked for International Education consultancy CfBT, and the Westminster think tank Policy Exchange. She holds a Masters Degree in Economics from the University of Edinburgh. 

Latest report:
Spoiled by Choice: How NCEA hampers education, and what it needs to succeed

Phone: +64 4 494 9101

Email: briar.lipson@nzinitiative.org.nz

Recent Work

researchED 1

Raging at researchED

Last year Prince Harry interviewed Obama. The former president told the Prince that to improve things you have to find common ground between people. And that this requires them to encounter each other – not just online but in person. I know that debate in education can be polarising. Perhaps because of this, and because Kiwis are so polite and friendly, there has been limited debate about educational ideas in New Zealand for some years – regardless the flavour of government. Read more

Briar Lipson
Insights Newsletter
8 June, 2018
researchED

A festival of education

As recently as in the 1920s, cyclists in the Tour de France would take ‘smoking breaks’, assisting team-mates to light-up while still cycling. Since then, scientific research and evidence has well and truly debunked the myth that smoking is good for athletic performance. In some ways, education today is like medicine was before science. It is vulnerable to emotions, ideologies and our individual beliefs: the prisms through which we view the world. Read more

Briar Lipson
Insights Newsletter
20 April, 2018
technology

21st century hogwash

Perhaps it is a product of New Zealand’s geographic isolation, which creates concern not to be left behind. But since moving here from England my education hogwash-o-meter has been reading unusually high. While the 21st century skills craze hit England, and fairly rapidly shuffled-on like a Furby in a Pokemon-hunt, in New Zealand there remains much excitement and unhelpful teacher-bashing in the name of educating for the future. The argument goes something like this. The future is highly uncertain. Read more

Briar Lipson
Insights Newsletter
23 March, 2018
Radio

Report: NCEA failing too many students

Kathryn Ryan speaks with Briar Lipson about her new education report, Spoiled by Choice. The report is calling for a reform of NCEA because it is failing too many students, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Too many young people are taking an easy path through qualifications, leaving school without the necessary skills. The report outlines that since the early 2000s, the country's 15-year-olds' reading and maths skills have declined, while NCEA pass rates have risen dramatically. Read more

Briar Lipson
Nine To Noon - Radio New Zealand
5 March, 2018
Spoiled by Choice cover

Spoiled by Choice: How NCEA hampers education, and what it needs to succeed

Education is about learning. However, as assessment expert Alison Wolf explains:…formal education is also, and intrinsically, about selection and certification… ~ Wolf, A. (2008)This is why national assessments exist. New Zealand’s is NCEA – the National Certificate of Educational Achievement. It was introduced in 2002-04.Born out of discontent with the old university-dominated system, NCEA was not designed to enable selection. Rather it was designed to be inclusive, through affording vast flexibility. Read more

Briar Lipson
4 March, 2018
algebra1

Why ‘Tomorrow’s Schools’ has far from run its course

Imagine buying a house, or choosing a spouse without knowing anything about them. You wouldn’t do it. It’s too big a commitment, too pivotal to future flourishing and happiness. You wouldn’t make such a decision before scrutinizing all the information you could muster. For many New Zealand parents, choosing the right schools for their children is an equally important decision. And yet we expect them to do it in the almost dark. Read more

Briar Lipson
Insights Newsletter
23 February, 2018
Child reading

What lessons from our dismal and dropping reading results?

The 2016 PIRLS results announced this week are bad.PIRLS (the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) compares the reading ability of Year 5 students. Ours ranked 33rd among the 50 participating countries. More worrying still, their scores were significantly worse than the last time the test was administered, in 2011. So far the decline has been blamed on smartphones, and the previous government’s fixation with National Standards. Read more

Briar Lipson
Insights Newsletter
8 December, 2017
Political drama

Political amateur dramatics - a UK perspective

So far in this Parliament, our fresh-faced new ministers have succumbed to a bit of over-exuberance on GST reform, some misguided Vietnamese-whispers, and some contorting parliamentary questions. But if political amateur dramatics is what you are after there has been little to see here, despite our government’s relative inexperience. Look instead to the UK Conservatives, now into their eighth year in government. First up from the UK this month came sex scandals. Read more

Briar Lipson
Insights Newsletter
24 November, 2017
exam pencil

Why NCEA would be a good place for paternalism

My dad just refitted his small cottage kitchen. He is over 6ft tall, so wanted the worktops raised 6 inches, precluding his need to bend. However, his circumstances may change. Aside from his possible shrinking, he might one day want to sell the house, or even welcome a ‘lady-friend’ who is less than 6ft tall. Needless to say, after acknowledging the trade-offs, a worktop compromise has been made. Read more

Briar Lipson
Insights Newsletter
10 November, 2017
algebra1

Thinking critically about New Zealand's latest prize

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, New Zealand leads the world in ‘educating for the future’.Their latest index, compiled in London, evaluates the extent to which the inputs to education systems prioritise ‘future skills’. New Zealand came out top, followed closely by Canada and Finland.But is this a prize we should be proud of?The Economist’s intelligentsia tells us that ‘workers of the future will need to master a suite of adaptable interpersonal, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills’.The language of future-focused skills... Read more

Briar Lipson
Insights Newsletter
6 October, 2017

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