32 Think Tanks Every Teacher Should Know

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Think Tanks Every Teacher Should Know


Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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Who are the think tanks that influence government policy and what influence do they have on education pedagogy?

This is an updated version of 18, 21 and 23 incarnations of Think Tanks Every Teacher Should Know, listed by their influence on education policy and if their impact is high or low. We want this graphic to spark a *debate.

What is their purpose and what do they do?

This new diagram – updated from the 23 Think Tanks list published In January 2017 – includes more organisations and if they have a particular left, centre or right-leaning bias.

Did you know, think tanks by law aren’t allowed to be political? So, although think tanks may be ‘left or right learning’ or that their ‘policies correspond with government’, they can lean left or right but cannot act in favour of a political party.


32 Think Tanks Every Teacher Should Know


You can download the graphic here.

Who funds these think tanks?

Think tanks call themselves as such because of their primary purpose, to influence policy. Their influence on school policy and political spectrum position are purely subjective judgement calls and are limited by the space available on the page.

If we wish to use think tanks as a reliable source of research which then influences the lives of millions of children, then it is important – as cited by ‘Who Funds You?‘ – to understand funding transparency among think tanks and political campaigns with a strong public policy or research focus.

UK think tanks and campaigns rated for funding transparency

Credit: Who Funds You?

Opaque or Transparent?

Put simply, any organisations labelled in the D and E brackets are what I would call, Dark Think Tanks. Those who do not declare who funds their research and/or the number of donations. Think tanks labelled in category A can be viewed as transparent and a trusted source of independence. Therefore, we can expect any publications to have the best intentions of schools and young people at heart.

I hope this provides teachers with a useful overview. There are hundreds of others listed here. If you are interested in who funds which think tank, visit Who Funds You and their ranking methodology. *This is an informal post and there is no intention to harm any charitable statuses; there is likely to be some errors.

  1. Think Tank = call themselves as such + primary purpose to influence policy (including education policy in England),
  2. Influence on UK school policy influence and political spectrum position = purely subjective (albeit informed) judgement calls / space on page / logo shape
  3. Additional metrics could include transparency, ‘traditional vs progressive’, scale of resources, degree of ‘evidence-informed’, and ‘years established’
  4. Please say where you think your org. should be placed differently (and why) – constructive feedback welcome, this is intended to be a bit of fun to prompt debate
  5. This is based on one, two, three, four blogs Louis Coiffait has done with @TeacherToolkit.

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