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Institute of Education

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Q&A with Paul Grainger

Paul is Co-Director of the Centre for Post-14 Education and Work, and Head of Enterprise and Innovation for the Department of Education, Practice and Society (EPS).

What is your role and what does it involve?
I coordinate the work of the Centre for Post-14 Education and Work and enterprise projects across the EPS department, negotiating the deployment of resources and evaluating the benefit of taking on new work. I seek out suitable sources of funding for projects and bring together teams to bid for and work on such projects. I work on projects myself, mainly with Further Education (FE) colleges. 

I have recently become involved to the G20 Summit process, being the UK representative on the Task Force, The Future of Work, and Education for the Digital Age, which looks at issues such as the impact of Artificial Intelligence on skills and employment systems, and on social structures.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?
I've been at the IOE for 12 years. Previously I was a College Principal in Liverpool.

What's the most important thing you've learned from your students about the subject you teach?
That you cannot be a successful teacher unless you have a genuine respect for your students.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?
Three years ago Ann Hodgson and I coordinated a book, The Coming of Age for FE?, ed. A. Hodgson (2015) which was has been described as the most important book on FE in 20 years. In my previous career, I established a new HE campus in Southend while working at an FE College there. Recently I have been responsible for presenting three Policy Briefs to the G20 Summit.

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list.
The Further Education Trust for Leadership which awards substantial grants and fellowships. I am supervising the publications of the Fellows and writing up a synthesis of the outcomes of the grant projects, and also working on a publication which examines the changing nature of leadership in FE.

What would it surprise people to know about you?
That I am a Licentiate of the London College of Music, and worked for a short time as a choreographer.

What other piece of research outside of your own subject area interests you?
My early research was on Franciscan preaching of the 14th century. I wanted to understand why the Ricardian school of poetry (Chaucer being the best known) could assume an informed and sophisticated audience. I found the answer in the preaching of friars, who preached competitively with the established church, were highly populist, and who introduced continental rhetorical forms into England. They developed the use of the same form of dramatic cameo vignette as Chaucer uses in his tales.