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. 

Phone: +64 4 494 9101


Recent Work

Graduate diploma1

NCEA: A question of trust

Last time you booked a hotel or restaurant, you may well have checked it out on TripAdvisor first. Whatever your price bracket, if a place was rated below about a three out of five, then the chances are you’ll have discounted it. The same goes when you buy a book on Amazon, or order an Uber. Ratings are useful for consumers. After all, thanks to TripAdvisor, great restaurants in hidden-away locations can still thrive, and we rarely subject ourselves to... Read more

Briar Lipson
Insights Newsletter
25 August, 2017

How radical is road pricing?

Elon Musk, of Paypal and Tesla fame, is boring a tunnel under Los Angeles. Musk believes he will be able to transport cars between L.A.’s West Coast and centre in five minutes. Auckland is smaller than L.A., but perhaps it is time we raised our game. Last weekend saw a flurry of pre-election announcements about Auckland transport; new roads and rail from National, and a new fuel-tax funded, light-rail line from Labour. Read more

Briar Lipson
Insights Newsletter
11 August, 2017
school books

Why learning to speak is easy, but learning to read is hard

Have you ever wondered why children learn to speak with relative ease, and yet find reading so much harder?This question was answered in the last 30 years by evolutionary psychology. The roots of this discipline are in biology, but it draws also on artificial intelligence, anthropology and archaeology. Within evolutionary psychology, a distinction is made between information patterns which are biologically primary, and those which are biologically secondary. Biologically primary information has facilitated human survival throughout evolution. Read more

Briar Lipson
Insights Newsletter
14 July, 2017

One of the problems with 21st century skills

Over the past week, TVNZ aired a series of interactive programmes exploring the future of society and work. It is an appealing idea: that in the future, life and work will look dramatically different.In fact, so enchanting is this idea that it has been used around the world to justify changing the school curriculum: away from teaching subject knowledge and in favour of ‘21st century skills’.The argument goes that since many of our children will one day work in jobs... Read more

Briar Lipson
Insights Newsletter
16 June, 2017
Vote tick

Schools and social mobility

When the Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA) started testing 15-year-olds in 2000, New Zealand students ranked second in reading and third in maths. Ever since, our scores have perpetually declined. Set starkly against this, pass rates for NCEA level 2, the national qualification typically completed by 16 and 17 year olds, have risen relentlessly.So what is the story?PISA assesses how well 15-year-old students have acquired knowledge and skills deemed essential for participation in society. Read more

Briar Lipson
Insights Newsletter
2 June, 2017
Wellington cablecar

Tuis, Kiwis and bus drivers

It has been two weeks since I started work in New Zealand, at the Initiative. Starting a new job in a new country, there are a few things to get used to. But I would not have guessed that the bus ride home would be such a highlight of my day. For those unaccustomed to Wellington buses, this is what happens: Each time someone alights, they break the otherwise contemplative commuter silence and yell “Thanks driver!” all the way up to... Read more

Briar Lipson
Insights Newsletter
28 April, 2017

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