A beginner's guide to Loic Menzies
Where does he work?
Loic Menzies is the director of LKMco, an education and youth "think- and action-tank" that produces policy research and campaigns for all young people to make a fulfilling transition to adulthood. He previously worked for Cambridge City Council and as a young advocate for the charity Changemakers, and as a teacher at St. George's R.C School in north-west London (which became the country's fifth most improved school during his tenure). He also tutors in initial teacher training at Canterbury Christ Church University.
What is he best known for?
Why Teach?, his thinktank's recent study into what is driving high numbers of UK teachers from the profession. A stark wake-up call to ministers, Menzies' report cited political "pet projects" such as grammar schools as a distraction from a slew of missed government targets on teacher training.
What's it all about?
After extensive, direct consultation with a number of practitioners, Menzies' report identified three key questions: how to encourage people to become teachers, how to retain teachers, and how to best deploy them into areas where they are most needed.
In order to encourage entry into the profession, he argues, a greater emphasis must be placed on opportunities to change peoples lives and, for primary school teachers, to spend time with children. On a practical level, it is important to highlight the high availability of jobs and pay. With regards to retention, Menzies calls for teachers' wages not to be hampered in the name of economic recovery, and that the practicalities of holidays and short working days remain a reason for people to stay in the profession. He also identifies the unusually high level of dissatisfaction with leadership within the profession.
Finally, the report says that schools need to tap into local labour markets and encourage locals to join the profession. But conversely, it argues that many teachers are willing to commute for the "right school", and as such it is incumbent upon schools to market themselves as positive working environments with opportunities for teachers to "rise through the ranks."
What does he research?
Menzies has also devoted considerable energy to campaigning for social mobility, particularly when it comes to disadvantaged children from minority backgrounds. In particular, LKMco has paid attention to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) pupils. He has uncovered some harrowing figures, including the fact that GRT pupils are 10 times less likely to go to university, leave school without five good GCSEs, and are subject to prejudicial language and bullying by British people and university staff that puts them off attaining a good education.
Other work includes joint research, for example, on London's relative education success in Lessons from London Schools (2014) with CFBT Education Trust and the London Centre. This identified four main interventions – the London Challenge programme, Teach First, the academies programme and improved support from local authorities, as key to the unprecedented success of London'' schools.
Aside from producing field-specific research, Menzies has also appeared frequently in the national press to discuss government campaigns for aspiration among children. Highlighting how parents' and pupils' aspiration to go to university does not match how likely they feel they are able to achieve the grades to do so, Menzies produced research with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation which recommended a greater emphasis on schools helping parents to better understand how to achieve their aims
What he says:
"We need to stand up to those who use the myth of low aspirations as a convenient but flawed way of explaining away poverty. Instead, we should focus on the real issue: our terrifyingly large educational attainment gap."
What others say:
"Loic has a fantastic creative energy and is absolutely passionate about youth work and improving the lives of young people." John Roberts, chief executive, Edapt.
Why you should consider reading more:
A versatile and highly productive researcher, Menzies is frequently called upon to produce research which informs government policy on a number of educational initiatives. In particular, his pioneering work into increasing the recognition of the unique needs of certain disadvantaged children has cultivated a new drive to improve their opportunities and attainment. Not merely consigned to academic journals, the work of LKMco achieves regular national attention, and does vital work in seeing its recommendations become reality.