NZI 2019 Staff BRIAR LIPSON 03

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 reports:
Research Note: Ignorance is not bliss: Why knowledge matters (and why we may not have enough of it) (2019)
Spoiled by Choice: How NCEA hampers education, and what it needs to succeed (2018)

Phone: +64 4 494 9101


Recent Work

Child reading

Discussing ignorance is not bliss

We all assume we've got a handle on basic knowledge, but a new survey has found New Zealanders have some serious gaps when it comes to basic maths, geography and history facts. Briar Lipson spoke to Jesse Mulligan on Radio New Zealand about the finding from her new report, Ignorance is not bliss: why knowledge matters (and why we might not have enough of it). Read more

Briar Lipson
Radio New Zealand
19 November, 2019
Ignorance is not bliss cover image

Research Note - Ignorance is not bliss: Why knowledge matters (and why we may not have enough of it)

For most of history, only the wealthiest in society had the time and resources to pursue disciplinary knowledge. For everyone else, knowledge beyond daily experience was an unaffordable luxury. Nowadays, through the spread of literacy, everyone can explore knowledge of the world beyond their confines. Read more

Briar Lipson
Research Note
18 November, 2019
BL Q+A 19 Nov

Why knowledge matters

On Q+A, Briar Lipson discusses our survey that tested 1,000 voting-aged New Zealanders on the state of their general knowledge. The (surprising) findings formed the basis for her latest research note, Ignorance is not bliss: Why knowledge matters (and why we may not have enough of it). Read more

Briar Lipson
18 November, 2019
apple on book1

Knowledge is the answer

During a visit to a new London charter school in 2015, then-Mayor Boris Johnson sparred with a 12-year-old over the year the Roman Empire converted to Christianity (313 AD). Johnson was wrong (by a year) and dumbstruck by the knowledge of the inner-city children. As the future prime minister put it, the Michaela Community School showed “the way forward for our city and our country.” Read more

Briar Lipson
The National Business Review
6 September, 2019
Classroom student5

The misshapen horse of NCEA

The saying goes that a camel is like a horse designed by a committee. Of course, the analogy does not actually work to denigrate the work of committees – camels are highly adapted to desert life – but, still, the image of a misshapen horse holds meaning, and relevance to NCEA. Read more

Briar Lipson
Education Central
31 May, 2019

NCEA changes a welcome start

This week, we were happy to see the changes to NCEA announced by Education Minister Chris Hipkins. It is encouraging that the Minister’s NCEA Change Package mirrors so many of the recommendations in our 2018 report, Spoiled by Choice: How NCEA hampers education, and what it needs to succeed. For example, the announced package includes: Read more

Briar Lipson
Insights Newsletter
17 May, 2019
Tomorrows Schools

Hubs raise unanswered questions

The question of how to help schools face challenging circumstances was a key focus of Monday’s Tomorrow’s Schools review discussion held jointly by the Initiative and Victoria University’s Faculty of Education. The Tomorrow’s Schools Taskforce is clear, and the Initiative agrees, that there is a serious and stubborn problem of underachievement among students from certain ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. According to the taskforce, one of the key causes of this inequity in outcomes is the way we organise our education... Read more

Briar Lipson
Insights Newsletter
5 April, 2019
Classroom student4

Freedom, hubs and the curriculum

New Zealand schools enjoy relative freedom. Some teach 21st century skills, others a knowledge-rich curriculum. In some classrooms devices are integral, in others they are banned. Some treated last week’s Climate Change March as part of the curriculum, others labelled it truancy. Generally, freedom works. But the Tomorrow’s Schools independent taskforce wants to change the balance between freedom and control. It wants to create new regional education hubs responsible for everything from employing teachers to advising on curriculum and pedagogy. Read more

Briar Lipson
Insights Newsletter
22 March, 2019

Stay in the loop: Subscribe to updates