Michael Walker

Michael Walker



I am married with two grown up children and now a very proud grandparent.

I taught in the secondary phase of education for around seventeen years before working as an advisory teacher then as a local authority inspector.  I moved on to work for national government agencies including the National Curriculum Council where I was involved in developing the national curriculum. Before retiring I was Executive Director of the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency during which time I held responsibility for monitoring general qualification and vocational awarding bodies and from 2008 held accountability for national curriculum assessments.

I am now ostensibly ‘retired’ but maintain my passion for education through involvement as an adviser to the DfE, a trustee of the Chartered Institute of Educational Assessors (CIEA), chair of the Institute of Directors’ Examinations Committee and Evidence Based Education Advisory Committee. I also undertake extensive work with schools and educational conferences.  I am a Fellow of the CIEA, the Royal Society of Arts and the Chartered College of Teaching.

I was awarded a PhD at the University of Leeds in 2020 and hold two Bachelor degrees and a Masters, also from the University of Leeds, completed in 1988 – which now seems a long time ago – because it is!

What motivated me to undertake PhD study?

I actually made a tentative start to a PhD following a ‘nudge’ from my tutors after the completion of my Masters. Unfortunately, this coincided with a change in jobs so I missed the opportunity. However, I’ve held a desire ever since to undertake further study and research. I believe that the teaching profession needs a stronger and on-going relationship with researchers and the academic community.  Developing and sharing ideas that actually improve teaching and learning has to be a central tenet of a profession.

A few years ago I ‘retired’ from my post at the Qualifications & Curriculum Development Agency. Since then, I’ve been involved in a range of things related to education, principally around assessment.

But the desire to undertake further study has never faded and now that I have the chance, indeed the privilege, to work under the supervision of two excellent academics at the University of the Year, attend really stimulating lectures and seminars, I’d be mad to miss the chance. Education is a passion, I can’t just walk away from it.

What makes me passionate about my subject?

I’ve been involved in the education sector for over forty years – much longer if you include my time as a student! I can’t think of a greater privilege than contributing to children’s learning.

Having held posts including chief examiner, external university examiner and regulation of awarding bodies, I have long held interests in educational assessment. I believe intelligent use of assessment is integral to high quality teaching and learning. But despite its centrality, my experience suggests that assessment is not as well developed and understood within the teaching profession as it should be. Indeed, it’s often seen as an external imposition. I simply want to make a contribution to raising the importance of assessment as a key strand in teacher preparation and professional development through developing tangible and practical support for the profession. I hope that as a consequence of improved assessment practice, we can raise the professional standing of teachers through greater trust in their in practice.

I believe passionately that research based approaches to developing new knowledge or improved ways of working should feature more in teachers’ on-going work. If I can contribute to making this the norm, even in a small way, I’ll be more than happy.

What are my plans once I have completed my PhD?

To keep on learning and to contribute in any way I can to the development of the education system. Our children deserve the very best we can offer.

Research interests

Submission Date: September 2020

The status of teachers’ assessments in high stakes qualifications and tests does not attract the same levels of confidence as externally set and marked components. The increased use of assessments as accountability measures in the compulsory phase of education in England has resulted in a level of mistrust in some quarters over the reliability of teacher-based assessments. This has also been linked to concerns about the lack of expertise in assessment theory and practice within the teaching profession. This study aims to gain a deeper understanding of issues around trust in teacher assessment and the development of a strategy to provide more public and professional confidence in teacher assessment outcomes.


  • PhD
  • MEd
  • Bed (Hon)
  • BA
  • Cert Ed